“Twenty-five years from now, most of you will not remember me speaking before you,” said Class of 2012 President Tara Keough ’12 during her Commencement ceremony welcome address. While that may be true, Keough guaranteed that her fellow graduates and the countless families and friends who filled the Times Union Center in downtown Albany would remember the day, and she encouraged her classmates to cherish the memories and accomplishments it represents.
“Each and every one of us has created life changing friendships and unforgettable memories that stretch far beyond the confines of our four years here,” Keough said. “While our journeys here at Siena have ended, our new expeditions into the world have just begun; but there is no doubt in my mind, that each and every member from the Class of 2012 will never forget to bring Siena along with them.”
Whether they are entering the workforce or continuing their education, members of the Class of 2012 committed to keeping their connections to the College alive in various ways.
Marketing major Jon Deis ’12 said Commencement is the “definition of bittersweet.” While he is sad to leave his friends and influential professors, Deis is excited about beginning his career at W.B. Mason. “Siena has given me the opportunity to put myself out there and make a difference in the world,” Deis said. During his time at Siena, Deis conducted market research with Professor of Marketing and Management Raj Devasagayam, Ph.D., and presented his findings at conferences in Chicago and Mumbai.
“Remember to keep holding doors open for people and say hello because it makes everyone’s day brighter,” said Alex Mazza ’12. The former Student Senate President and biology major is moving to New York City where he will be running clinical trials in oncology and hematology at the Weill Cornell Medical College.
“This school prepared me for the next step,” said Joseph Frumusa ’12. He majored in psychology, minored in broadcast and society, served as president of the SCTV Television Club and hosted a weekly interview show called “Saints Live.” Frumusa will continue to develop his skills and prepare for a career in television news as he pursues a master’s degree in broadcast journalism at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Siena also awarded honorary degrees to educational leader and former Chair of the Siena College Board of Trustees Joseph M. Pastore, Jr., Ph.D.; journalist, author, sports woman and breeder of thoroughbred horses Virginia Kraft Payson; and New York Yankees shortstop and Captain Derek Jeter.
Pastore delivered a motivational message of hope to the graduates, encouraging them to continue learning, to make good, ethical decisions and to reflect on the impact of their Siena education. “We hope you engage the future while remembering the past, especially those who have helped you along the way,” Pastore said.
The second honorary degree recipient, Virginia Kraft Payson, stressed the importance of hard work as she shared stories of her careers working as a sports journalist and a breeder of race horses. She reflected on something her father said to her while she was a young child staring at the moon from the window of her New York City apartment. “You can go there someday, my father told me,” Payson said. “You can do anything you want as long as you want it and work for it. The whole universe is out there waiting for you.”
The third honorary degree recipient, Derek Jeter, was honored for his athletic accomplishments and work with young people through his Turn 2 Foundation, which encourages children and teenagers to choose healthy lifestyles. Since its inception in 1996, during Jeter’s rookie season, the Turn 2 Foundation has awarded more than $16 million in grants to create and support signature programs for children to achieve academic excellence, develop leadership skills and remain drug and alcohol free.
Jeter and the Yankees were in action on Commencement day against the Seattle Mariners, so his sister Sharlee Jeter, President of the Turn 2 Foundation, accepted the degree on his behalf. Jeter’s presence was felt through a personalized video message that played on the arena’s video board.
“I am proud to be recognized as a Son of Siena, which is such an amazing institution that promotes the values that are most important to me,” Jeter said. “Academic success and the importance of giving back to the community are fundamentals that were instilled in my home growing up and also that my Turn 2 Foundation is built upon.”
After receiving their degrees and officially becoming Sons and Daughters of Siena forever, Amanda Filippazzo ’12 delivered the senior commencement address. In her speech Filippazzo reflected on transitioning to college life, making friends and connecting with professors who pushed her to become a better student and a stronger person.
“Those pivotal moments, however grand or small, have lasting effects. They have shaped our character, our beliefs, our sense of humor and our views on the world,” Filippazzo said. “Siena has helped us transform into adults, and, through our experiences, we have gained a deeper understanding of ourselves. As we drive off of this campus today, we will be taking with us the knowledge we have learned. But also, we will take the memories and friendships that we have made. These have shaped us into who we are today.”