Daemen College celebrated the Class of 2017 at undergraduate and graduate ceremonies held for the institution’s 66th annual commencement that took place on May 20 in Kleinhans Music Hall.
“Graduates, this is a special day, and you have worked many long, hard hours to arrive at where you are today,” said Daemen President Gary A. Olson, who conferred degrees to more than 950 graduating students. “You are now and forever part of the Daemen community. I am certain that you will continue to make Daemen proud that you are one of our graduates.”
At the undergraduate ceremony, Abby Lindberg of Newark, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, was presented the Charles L. Lumsden Award, the college’s most prestigious academic award. The honor is presented to the student with the highest GPA throughout their undergraduate years.
Congressman Brian Higgins, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives serving New York’s 26th congressional district, noted in his undergraduate commencement speech the importance of a college education and encouraged graduates to continue to learn.
“You are graduating from an institution that has prepared you well for a new beginning in your life,” said Higgins. “As you start your next chapter, I urge you to keep learning and to be a lifelong learner in an ongoing, self-motivated pursuit of knowledge.”
Reflecting on his family’s deep roots in Buffalo, Higgins talked about having “an epiphany at age 22 when I realized that my father, who was a proud and hardworking bricklayer, wanted me to go to school so that I could have a better life than he did. I was the beneficiary of my father’s dream that I receive an education and go on to have a successful life,” he said.
“To the graduates here today, this is also your story because your parents and grandparents laid the foundation for you to succeed beyond what their generation has accomplished,” added Higgins. “This is the calling of our country, and the narrative of our great nation.”
Graduate commencement speaker Robert M. Chur, president of Chur Companies of New York, Inc., and the Chur Family Foundation, praised the graduates for acquiring the “skills, knowledge, and experience that will serve you well professionally on your road to success. The world has many lessons to teach you and there will be a few bumps along the way. I know you possess the strength and fortitude to move on and move ahead.”
Chur also emphasized several key areas to help graduates develop a plan for a successful long-term career path, including priorities, planning, quality and self-improvement, and respect for others.
“Consistent with priorities, it is important to have short- and long-term plans, which are essential to continuous success,” he said. “As a business owner and employer, I have always emphasized to management staff to treat all employees equally – focus on the person, not the title or position – as we must respect each and every person within our organization.”
In closing his remarks, Chur said, “One day you will look back on your college experience with tremendous fondness and know that you have benefited from the wealth of opportunities from which to learn and grow. Be proud of all that a Daemen degree signifies.”
During Daemen’s commencement ceremonies, keynote speakers Higgins and Chur each received an honorary doctorate of humane letters.