In-person ceremonies reunite students with campus, each other

Four graduates in caps and gowns standing among Congrats Grad lawn signs and ornaments

SUNY Old Westbury held four days of in-person Class of 2021 Recognition Ceremonies for the Class of 2021 on May 24-27, 2021 to celebrate the achievement of graduates, most of whom spent the past three semesters learning through remote and alternative methods of instruction. 

The Recognition Ceremonies followed the 2021 Virtual Commencement Ceremony, which featured all 1,400 graduates of winter 2020 and spring 2021 in what was the largest class of graduates in SUNY Old Westbury history. 

An estimated 500 graduates took part in the socially-distanced Recognition Ceremony events, held in the College's Student Union, while their friends and family watched via live stream while either waiting outside or at home.  Then, when the program was over, fist bumps and photos were had by all.

"These were important events not just for our graduates but for our entire campus," said SUNY Old Westbury President Timothy E. Sams. "We have a historic class of graduates who have endured a worldwide pandemic. We had to find a way to focus the attention on them and give them a graduation experience to remember."

The event was one of joy and celebration for everyone in attendance as the class of 2021 was recognized for its academic achievements.

Distinguished Service Professor Laura Anker spoke to each group about the history of the College and the experience the students had as they traversed the pandemic while pursuing their degrees.

"Although we often speak of education as a gift, Adrienne Rich reminds us that learning is never passively received," said Dr. Anker, citing the notable 20th century poet and essayist. "You, the Class of 2021, make this a time of great hope and optimism for the future. The unique diversity of Old Westbury has enriched your classes and challenged each of you to listen more fully, reflect more deeply, think more critically, decide more ethically, care more intensely, love more broadly, and act more courageously and compassionately in everything you do."

Each of the 14 programs was hosted by American Studies Professor Wayne Edwards and featured remarks from President Sams. Then, when the time came, students were called by name to come forward, be applauded, take photographs, and begin their experience as alumni of SUNY Old Westbury.

Watch the Recognition Ceremonies on the College's YouTube Channel

See Photos from the Recognition Ceremonies on Flikr