LSSU celebrates 51st commencement ceremony
Posted: April 29th, 2013
Various scenes from Saturday's commencement activities can be found by clicking here.
A story on the Distinguished Teaching Award is here.
LSSU's Class of 2013
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – While joking about his limited ability at keeping up with the latest in electronic technology and communication, William Verrette encouraged students graduating from Lake Superior State University on Saturday to continue to learn, grasp new ideas quickly, and apply them to their lives and careers.
Verrette, of Iron Mountain, spoke to LSSU’s graduating class after receiving an honorary doctorate in engineering for his lifetime accomplishments and his work with the university and in education in general over the years.
Nearly 600 graduates received more than 700 degrees from LSSU this year. The commencement ceremony in the Norris Center’s Taffy Abel Arena included the announcement of Prof. Deborah Choszczyk as this year’s recipient of the LSSU Distinguished Teaching Award, and remarks from LSSU President Tony McLain and student respondent Tracy Merony, a criminal justice graduate from Harrison Twp., Mich.
Verrette told the graduating class that the biggest difference between them and him, “besides age,” is the rapid development of all the “electronic niceties” in communication and social media.
“I will never be comfortable with all of it, but I will keep trying,” he said.
The owner and director of Champion Inc. of Iron Mountain lauded LSSU graduates for being able to take on any situation that comes at them.
“You’ve received a fine education here, where you’ve been taught to be problem-solvers and have learned to be flexible…In addition, you do not quit. Most of you have been given the opportunity to quit and you did not. In the future, you will be given more opportunities to quit, and I believe you will not.”
Verrette paid tribute to his parents and others who helped him get through college, although he admitted that he didn’t understand until later in his life how much others had played a hand in his success. He also noted the number of employees that have worked in the Eastern Upper Peninsula for Champion over the past 30 years. He singled out LSSU graduate Gary Benjamin of Iron Mountain, Champion CEO, for guiding the company into the future. Benjamin is a recipient of LSSU’s Outstanding Alumnus Award.
“You are graduating in a unique time in North America,” he noted. “There is much opportunity and high risk with great potential award…Adaptation to rapid change is demanded, and ideas and information are driving the change.”
He also assured the new graduates that “Age and experience do not have a corner on all good ideas.”
“All of you will be successful, but you need to figure out what success means to you. The definition may change over time. Is it money, power, a new product, peace of mind? Think about it. Some of you will be more successful than you can imagine, but all of you will be successful if you are able to determine what success means to you.”
He also encouraged the graduates to remember where they came from, saying, “As you achieve success, do not lose sight of what the university has meant to you. Give part of that success back to this university.”
LSSU President McLain noted that he had started his job at LSSU right about the time when most of the graduating class members were starting their college careers.
“You are a very special group to me. Most of you arrived here just about the same time as I did and our experiences may have been similar,” he said. “When I arrived, I had a job to do, just as you did. We both found great people here who were a pleasure to meet and work with. We have dedicated students, faculty and staff who compete with the best of the best schools and often come out on top.”
McLain noted that LSSU became more than a job and was more like family to him, just as it may have become to the graduates.
“Like family, we’ll separate but we’ll never really leave. We may get stretched by miles and time, but family always remains with you…Don’t forget that you once were and always will be a member of the Laker family.”
During his address, McLain pointed out other members of the Laker family in the audience, including several “Golden Grads,” who are some of the university’s earliest graduates, including Lou Lukenda DDS, of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., for whom LSSU’s new School of Business was recently named.
Class Respondent Tracy Merony
In a nod toward Verrette’s encouragement to keep up with electronic communication, LSSU student respondent Tracy Merony told the graduating class that when she discovered she would be delivering this address, the first thing she did was peruse videos of graduation speeches on the Internet.
She, too, encouraged graduates to remember their roots and asked them to stand up and thank their parents, friends and family in the audience.
“No matter our choices, we are not alone. Our friends, family, advisors and co-workers helped us. I can’t thank enough my mom and dad for always being there, my sorority sisters for pushing me, my advisors for telling me not to give up, and everyone else who helped me,” she said.
Merony also noted what brings so many students to LSSU – the chance to learn at a public university that is the size of many private schools.
“We received more than any big school could offer. We studied with actual professors, not graduate students. We chose this school for how it redefined our classroom experience, and now our experiences will have an impact on our careers for many years to come.”
Merony graduated with two bachelor’s degrees and two associate’s degrees. She continues her education this summer with the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards police academy at LSSU. She is the first female commander of the program in its history at LSSU. -LSSU-