Special day marks a new beginning for graduates

Daemen President Gary Olson
Daemen President Gary Olson

A celebratory atmosphere filled Kleinhans Music Hall as the Daemen College Class of 2018 received their degrees at the college’s 67th annual commencement held on May 19.

In addressing the college’s newest graduates, Daemen President Gary Olson said, “Each of you is a part of a very special college, and I feel confident that no matter what challenges you experience in your life, you will continue to meet those challenges with wisdom and integrity. Our collective future depends on a populace of critical thinkers. It depends, in part, on you.”

At the undergraduate ceremony, Emily Buzzard, who earned a bachelor’s degree in social work, received the Charles L. Lumsden Award, the college’s most prestigious academic honor presented to the student with the highest GPA throughout their undergraduate years. She was also selected as this year’s recipient of the President’s Award, which recognizes an undergraduate student who has exhibited dedication, care and concern for their fellow students. The honor was presented at Daemen’s Excellence Awards Ceremony held during commencement weekend.

Other top 2018 undergraduate award recipients recognized at the Excellence Awards Ceremony were:

  • Hugo Juarez Guzman —Mary Angela Canavan Award, which recognizes an undergraduate student who has made significant contributions to the betterment of student life at the college. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology.
  • Braxton Stinson —Alumni Senior Award, which recognizes an undergraduate student who has demonstrated exceptional dedication to the larger community. He earned a bachelor’s degree in in liberal studies.

Undergraduate commencement speaker Dr. Candace S. Johnson, president and CEO of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, encouraged the graduates to “be your best advocate to get to where you want to be in your profession. As you go through your career, make an impression on your supervisor by getting your work done to the best of your ability and to do so in a positive way that will make you stand out and get noticed.”

Noting that role models are an important part of professional life, Johnson added, “An optimistic attitude will help you to be successful and to rise above difficulties you will encounter. Today is one of the best days of your life — enjoy this moment and I wish you great happiness and success.”

Graduate commencement speaker Paul A. Saffrin, chief executive officer of Vanocur Refractories, emphasized the value of mentorship in life.

“During the coming years, surround yourself with mentors who will recognize and support your potential and who will make your life better and more fulfilling,” said Saffrin, who also encouraged the graduates to give back to the community. “Find someone you aspire to be. In turn, one day you will have an opportunity to serve as a mentor to someone in your life.”

Along the journey ahead, “You will face a multitude of challenges and obstacles,” Saffrin said. “Prepare for these challenges that will come your way. Regardless of your chosen career, some of your greatest successes and best lessons learned will result from overcoming challenges. Build resilience within yourself. And always give 100 percent in what you do.”

Keynote speakers Johnson and Saffrin each received an honorary doctorate of humane letters at Daemen’s commencement ceremonies.