During his remarks, President Gary A. Olson told the Class of 2023, “Now more than ever, educated citizens are being challenged to reaffirm, champion, and put to good use the value and skills we all share as educated citizens. Our collective future depends on a populace of critical thinkers. It depends in part, on you.”
This year’s recipient of the Charles L. Lumsden Award was Angeleah Isabella Lograsso, a Physician Assistant Studies major. The honor bestowed upon the senior with the highest cumulative grade point average in the graduating class. Lograsso maintained a 4.0 GPA during her undergraduate studies and graduated summa cum laude.
JoAnn Falletta, the music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, served as the commencement speaker for the undergraduate ceremony.
Falletta acknowledged that the graduates started their college journey just months before the Covid-19 pandemic changed the world, navigated two difficult years, and they found their way out. She warned the world has grown a little colder, more isolated, a bit angrier, and a lot lonelier.
“This is where all of you are vital,” Falletta told the grads. “You have learned a great deal, and you are ready. But what is even more necessary is your tremendous power to heal the cautious and injured world around us. With your strength, you can spread compassion. With your enthusiasm, you can re-kindle joy. With your optimism, you can give hope to others who have forgotten even how to hope.”
Nathan Breske, head athletic trainer of the Buffalo Bills, delivered the commencement address at the graduate ceremony.
Breske explained he originally wanted to play football in the NFL. When he realized that wasn’t going to happen, he attacked his career as a physical therapist and athletic trainer with the same intensity and passion he had when playing the game. Breske also shared his family motto since his mother passed away: cherish the moments.
“In fact, we have got the phrase, ‘Cherish the Moments,’ on the big wall in our training room at Highmark Stadium,” Breske said. “It is just a little reminder of how lucky and blessed we all are to be alive in that moment. Sure, life will throw you curveballs, but you must be agile enough to adapt and work through all kinds of situations.”
For Breske, one of those situations came during a Monday Night Football game in January when Bills Safety Demar Hamlin collapsed on the field. He urged the room of grads to get CPR and AED trained so they too can be ready just like his team way.
“Be a change-maker,” Breske said. “Time and experiences fly by, so be sure to enjoy the life you have been given and truly embrace it. Remember, cherish the moments.”