Rebecca Krefting is a rare breed of commencement speaker.
She boils her advice down to bullet points, injects a little humor and gets the whole thing over in a matter of minutes.
It only took her eight minutes Saturday morning to condense a dozen life tips into something ingestible for Skidmore College’s Class of 2013.
Choose your friends wisely, she began. Find ones who make you feel better about yourself, not worse. Challenge yourself and learn to take criticism. Spend your money wisely. Take care of the Earth. Take care of yourself, she continued, pointing to a melanoma scar on her face.
“You only have one husk, one shell to shellac for a lifetime,” said Krefting, a former standup comic and actress who now teaches American studies at Skidmore.
She also offered some practical advice to the 606 bachelor’s degree candidates and seven master’s degree recipients who filled the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
“When including Jerusalem artichokes on your dinner menu, plan to spend your evening alone,” said Krefting. “If you’ve had them, you know what I’m talking about and have surely passed your own air baby. If so, mazel tov.”
New York Times columnist David Brooks and mining executive Cynthia Blum Carroll, a 1978 Skidmore graduate, were also at the college’s 102nd commencement to receive honorary degrees. Carroll’s appearance was met by a protest from students, who turned their backs as she addressed them.
Colleges and universities across the region graduated nearly 5,000 students at five separate ceremonies Saturday, with commencement speakers and graduating classes as diverse as the Capital Region. While many graduates were local, a large number hailed from China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Turkey and elsewhere around the world. Graduates were as young as 16 and as old as 75. They were veterans and members of the military, mothers and sons, twin brothers and sisters.
• Hudson Valley Community College graduated the most students Saturday, with 2,333 degrees and certificates conferred at its 59th commencement ceremony at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in Troy.
It was the largest graduating class for the community college, which graduated its first automotive management and polysomnography students this year. Graduates from its civil, construction, industrial and mechanical technologies department wore hard hats instead of traditional mortarboards. And graduates from the dental hygiene program carried giant toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste.
Speakers included college President Drew Matonak; retired Rensselaer County Surrogate Court Judge and HVCC Board of Trustees Chairman Conrad H. Lang Jr.; Tina Good, SUNY Board of Trustees member and Faculty Council of Community Colleges president; Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino; and Rensselaer County Legislature Chairman Martin Reid.
• Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences also had its largest graduating class ever, with 235 undergraduates and 45 graduate students participating in the college’s 133rd commencement at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.
Class of 1963 alumnus Dr. Richard H. Daffner delivered the commencement address, and Renaissance Corp. of Albany President John C. Egan received an honorary degree.
• The Sage Colleges graduated nearly 1,000 students Saturday at their 96th commencement at the Houston Field House in Troy. Sage College of Albany conferred 217 bachelor’s degrees, Russell Sage College conferred 216 bachelor’s degrees and Sage Graduate School conferred 429 master’s degrees and advanced certificates, 47 doctorates in physical therapy, 11 doctorates in education and five doctorates in nursing.
Chobani Inc. President and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya delivered the commencement address.
• The University at Albany conferred master’s and doctoral degrees and certificates Saturday to 683 graduates at the SEFCU Arena in the first part of its commencement weekend. Class of 1973 graduate Jack Henion delivered the commencement address. He co-founded and chairs Advion, a globally recognized firm in the development of automatic, chip-based mass spectrometry technology.
Today, the university will hold a ceremony for undergraduates at 10 a.m. on the Entry Plaza lawn near Collins Circle. Music industry executives Monte Lipman, Class of 1986, and Avery Lipman, Class of 1988, will deliver the commencement address.