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Student at a podium making graduation speech

ESF Graduates: Your Passion Has Never Been More Valuable

"The world is finally waking up to the idea that we must fundamentally change the way we live in order to protect our natural resources. And we need you to show them how. This is your time to shine," said President Joanie Mahoney to graduates during December Commencement exercises for the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).

Mahoney's remarks were part of the ceremonies Friday at Hendricks Chapel that celebrated the accomplishments of the College's newest graduates. The College conferred 138 degrees, including 33 master's degrees and nine Doctor of Philosophy degrees. The ceremony also included the presentation of three Graduate of Distinction Awards.

"You are environmental champions, climate-change warriors, and sustainability advocates. Your skills have never been more in demand. Your research has never been more necessary. Your passion has never been more valuable," said Mahoney.

Student speaker Bri'ajah'nae Nas'sir Hymes encouraged her fellow graduates to "enter the world as global citizens, with an open mind and heart. Expand your horizons, try new things, and meet new people. There is always someone who knows something you don't, and there is always a person who can benefit from the knowledge that you have."

Although they will face challenges, Hymes asked the class of 2021 to remember that spending time in nature is linked to improvements to mood and mental health, and overall well-being. "In challenging situations, I ask that you step back, perhaps go outside, and remind yourself of all the things you went through to get to where you are."

"I encourage every single one of you graduates to be kind to one another, and most importantly be kind to yourself," she said.

Three alumni were also honored during commencement. Graduate of Distinction Awards were bestowed upon Gary Hilderbrand '79, Dr. Ana Menezes '08, and Susan Fassler '12, '14.

"I commend your many achievements," said Hilderbrand, Graduate of Distinction Lifetime Achievement honoree, "and I urge you to be thankful for your teachers. They are artists of the human mind and human spirit. Take that with you, and learn how to impart it to future students, however you can."

Commencement 2021 Photo Gallery

Commencement 2021 Video