LSSU celebrates 50th commencement ceremony
Posted: April 29th, 2012
Various scenes from Saturday's commencement activities can be found by clicking here.
A story on the Distinguished Teaching Award is here.
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Sault native and LSSU alumnus Stuart D. Flynn M.D. reminded nearly 550 Lake Superior State University graduates of the qualities of a good leader when he spoke to them as part of the university's 50th commencement ceremony on Saturday.
The ceremony included remarks from LSSU President Tony McLain and student respondent Peter DeKraker, as well as the announcement of Prof. Ashley Moerke as the recipient of this year's LSSU Distinguished Teaching Award.
"Your ability to succeed will be determined less by how smart you are and more by how driven you are by the qualities that define you as a person, including your work ethic, humility and fairness," said Flynn, who last spoke at LSSU in 1993 when he was selected as LSSU's Outstanding Alumnus. Then, Flynn was professor of pathology at Yale University and director of the university's Molecular Pathology Laboratory. He returned this year as dean of the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix.
LSSU alumnus Stuart D. Flynn M.D.
Flynn told the graduates that every great leader with whom he has worked has exhibited those three qualities and others that have helped them stand out among their peers. Flynn used one of his favorite professors at LSSU, the late Art Duwe, as an example of someone who was fair, as well as someone who pushed him to attend medical school.
"I will be forever indebted to him and Lake Superior State," said Flynn, who spoke fondly of his upbringing in Sault Ste. Marie and on campus, where shoveled sidewalks in the winter. "It is overwhelming…I am so proud to be back here sharing this day with you. This is my hometown, my university, my family and friends. These are my roots and I could not be more proud. I am very thankful for what the city and university have done for me."
In his parting words, Flynn told the graduates, "Be fair, be kind, be happy and we will read about you in the coming years. Congratulations."
LSSU President Tony McLain said he was greeting his 41st class of graduating students since he became an educator.
"It would seem that after 40 years there would be little emotion as you see another set of seniors graduate, but the reality is a different story," he said. "If you are an educator, today is what you live for. There is always a little sadness to see the students leave, but it's tempered with the excitement of wondering what they might achieve. Who might we be reading about in the news 10 years from now? What great discoveries will come from them?
"This goal is like others you have passed," he continued. "As soon as the celebration is over, you'll find another milepost waiting for you…Good luck!"
LSSU student respondent Peter DeKraker, McBain, who received a degree in social studies with a secondary education concentration and a minor in mathematics, told his fellow "Facebook-generation" graduates to emulate fictional boxer Rocky Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone in the movie series.
"Rocky said, 'The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows'….You're going to get hit and it's all about how much you can take and keep moving forward….It is now our moment to prove to the world how much we can take. We’ve been given this tremendous opportunity as college graduates and we must now become the architects of a healthy future for the generations following in our footsteps…Show them what it means to be a Laker!"
Class Respondent Peter DeKraker
DeKraker was busy as an LSSU student. He was a resident advisor, a member of several campus clubs and student organizations, a tutor and more. He said his loss of sleep and free time and poor eating habits were worth his experiences.
"Today marks a day filled with much emotion and memory," he said. "…Part of my message to my classmates is to remember the past, and learn from it, but do not dwell on it…You have been granted an opportunity that millions in this world are never fortunate enough to have, so be thankful for what you have accomplished and experienced."
Taffy Abel Arena was filled nearly to capacity by graduates' family and friends, but many, including alumni, watched the ceremony as it was streamed live through the university's website. Of the many remarks that were sent in through e-mail regarding the web video, alumni commented that they were happy to re-live the graduation experience. The great-uncle and great-aunt of one graduate wrote that they were happy to be able to see the ceremony from their home in western Iowa.
LSSU Alumni Director Susan Fitzpatrick said the graduates are now part of LSSU's family of 28,000 alumni living in every state, most Canadian provinces and many other countries around the world. She encouraged them to stay in touch with their alma mater, just as some of the university's first graduates have done. Today's ceremony included several graduates from the first graduating classes who marched along with the students.
Graduates were ushered in to the Abel Arena by the bagpipes and drums of the Duncan Family of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. which has been part of every LSSU graduation ceremony for the past 50 years. In addition, the LSSU chorus sang the Canadian and U.S. national anthems, and native drumming group Aabizii of Brimley, Mich., performed an Honor Song at the conclusion of the ceremony.