Since holding its first commencement ceremony in 1952, Daemen has awarded nearly 20,000 degrees to graduates, who have gone on to serve as professionals and leaders in every U.S. state and around the world.
While graduation ceremonies were held on campus in the institution’s early years, it’s become a Daemen tradition to hold commencements at Buffalo’s Kleinhans Music Hall, a National Historic Landmark, with accompaniment by the Grammy Award-winning Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus.
This spring’s graduation of the Class of 2022 marked a welcome return to the venue for Daemen – its first commencement there since 2019 – and its first as a university.
The undergraduate and graduate ceremonies proved to be joyous and poignant occasions that celebrated the successful academic journeys of students who persevered through the pandemic – and offered a chance to reflect on the tragic hate crime that occurred in the city just a week prior.
“As you graduate and head out into the world,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, serving as undergraduate commencement speaker, “take with you the hard truths and lessons learned from last [week’s] tragedy. Whoever we are, wherever we are, whenever we see hate, we need to speak out against it. … I ask you to not tolerate intolerance.”
“Our world needs you,” added Brown, who was awarded an honorary doctorate from Daemen, “your unique gifts, your skill. It needs your love… May you go bravely forward.”
Serving as the graduate commencement ceremony speaker, Karen McMahon, a New York State assembly member, noted that the milestone of earning a graduate degree is made up of “ordinary moments along the way.”
“Your presence here today is a testament to the extraordinary success that comes from years of ordinary toil,” she said. “The question you face now is: What happens tomorrow?”
Kate Urkewich was presented with two prestigious honors: the President’s Award – given to the graduating senior who exemplifies the university’s values, while enhancing its community – and the Charles L. Lumsden Award, named for former Daemen trustee and chairman of the board, given for earning the highest cumulative grade-point-average.
Tyme Williams was presented with the Mary Angela Canavan Award, named after the institution’s second president and given to the senior who has made significant contributions to student life.
An honorary bachelor’s degree was bestowed on the late Destiny Nazaire, who passed away unexpectedly in December 2021 during her sophomore year at Daemen.
Nazaire was an accomplished psychology student who planned to dedicate her life to serve those in need. Her parents, Sabrina and Patrick Nazaire of Brooklyn, NY, accepted the award on her behalf.