Thousands of people filed into the Times Union Center in downtown Albany on Sunday as members of Siena College’s class of 2017 capped off their academic careers.
The college awarded 799 graduates with degrees during its commencement ceremony, which recognized undergraduate and graduate students. Faculty, administrators and students spoke about the value of the past four years and reflected on the campus that will bond them together moving forward.
“Regardless of what happens in our lives, we will always have Siena College,” said Amy Polchinski, a psychology major from Mahopac.
Polchinski delivered the student address during the event, and noted the changes she and her fellow classmates will soon face. Their 8 a.m. classes will soon turn into an 8 a.m. start to the workday, she said. The swipe of a dining hall card will become the swipe of a credit card.
Despite the changes, she said, the class will be united by its alma mater and the memories of the past four years, such as attending LarkFest, Chowderfest or Siena Fest.
As each graduate’s name was called — first those from the School of Liberal Arts, then from the School of Science, and finally from the School of Business — family and friends would issue a quick cheer or burst of applause. Some rang cowbells or air horns to celebrate their loved one’s achievement.
A few graduates stopped to dance as their name was called, and one man took out his phone to pose for a selfie with Brother F. Edward Coughlin, president of Siena College.
In his closing remarks, Coughlin said he has a special appreciation for the class of 2017 because he arrived on campus when the group was in its sophomore year. He recalled eating lunch and interacting with students, and how they helped make him feel at home.
He looked back on the past year, when the senior class orchestrated a lip-dub video to try to convince Jimmy Fallon to speak at commencement. He then noted the class’s school spirit, harkening to its turnout during the MAAC tournament in March. A short video clip of each reference played on the monitor as he spoke.
Coughlin encouraged the graduating class to be risk-takers, and to remember the lessons they learned at Siena when they go out into the world.
“Remember,” he said, “your forwarding address is ‘infinite possibility,’ your permanent address is ‘Siena College.’”
Lucas Tucker, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, was honored with the school’s annual Excellence in Teaching award. In his speech, Tucker spoke softly about the value of making time for students.
“There are times in life when we are busy… and there comes a knock at the door,” he said. How a professor or anyone else chooses to treat the person knocking can change their life, Tucker said.
“Decades from now, maybe we will see you in the market, or touring campus with your own children, and perhaps you will even take a moment to knock on our door,” he told the graduates. “If you do so, I will do my best to put aside my work and give you my complete attention. The truth is, nothing would make me happier.”
Here's a rundown of some of the upcoming commencement ceremonies at Capital Region colleges:
- 2 p.m. Thursday: Schenectady County Community College, at Proctors.
- 7 p.m. Friday: Fulton-Montgomery Community College, at Raiders Den.
- 8:15 a.m. Saturday: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, on campus.
- 10 a.m. Saturday: Skidmore College, at SPAC.
- 11 a.m. Sunday: University at Albany, on Plaza Lawn.
- 9 a.m. June 11: Union College, on campus.