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ESF Celebrates the Class of 2022
New York Ag Connection - 05/13/2022

"Chasing what we're passionate about and always moving forward has gotten everyone to where we are right now," said Hannah Doktor, a Forest Health major in the Department of Environmental Biology and the student speaker for ESF's commencement ceremony. "We have gained so much more than an education at ESF. We have gained family, lifelong connections, and a wealth of knowledge. Above all, we have gained the ability to see the world through green-tinted lenses, so we may always fight to preserve the planet and improve our world."

Reflecting on her non-linear path through ESF that included two changes of major, Doktor said, "No matter what the major, we all have the commonality of loving the planet and wanting to preserve it in one way or another. I congratulate you on reaching the end of your unique journey at ESF, and cannot wait to see what the next path has in store for you."

Doktor's remarks were part of the ceremony held at the SRC Arena and Events Center.

President Joanie Mahoney offered the graduates her congratulations and reminded them that they are never alone in their pursuit to improve their world. She reminded them that faculty and staff will continue to care about them and work with them to make the world a better place.

"It is pretty typical at commencement to send graduates with the message that now it is up to them to go solve the world's problems... and what a scary proposition that can be," Mahoney said.

"Once a part of our ESF family, you will always be a part of our ESF family, and you are now part of the thousands of alumni changing the world."

Honorary degree recipient Dr. Bryan Norton participated in the ceremony virtually. He was presented with an honorary degree for his outstanding achievements and contributions to society.

Along with their degrees, the class of '22 amassed other honors. Dr. Valerie Luzadis, Interim Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, noted these achievements:

- 19 bachelor's candidates completed the ESF Honors Program

- 41 inducted into Alpha Xi Sigma, the ESF Honor Society

- 13 inducted into Sigma Lambda Alpha, the national landscape architecture honor society

- 5 inducted into Sigma Lambda Chi, the International Construction Honor Society

- 10 graduating seniors were ESF in the High School participants

- 2 veterans of the United States Armed Forces

The College presented a posthumous diploma for Troy Eames, a senior in Environmental Studies, to his family.

"Troy's life was well-lived and far too short," said Luzadis. Eames transferred to ESF in the spring of 2019, worked diligently towards his degree completion, and would have been the first person on his mother's side to earn a four-year degree.

"We share in the grief of Troy's passing. Today, we celebrate Troy's accomplishments at ESF as we present to Karen Eames and Andrew Eames, Troy's mother and brother, a posthumous diploma signifying that Troy Eames earned the Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies," said Luzadis.

Gary Lipp, president of the Alumni Association, urged the graduates to get involved. "Wherever you go or whatever positions you occupy, be sure to pay your new knowledge forward! Share what you learned at ESF about the importance of the preservation of our environment."

Provost Dr. Samuel Mukasa made some predictions about the class of '22's future. "I can tell you that you will all drive electric cars, not own houses with lawns in the suburbs, have only 1.7 children or perhaps even fewer, and live to be 100 years old. So, start saving."

Along with predictions, Mukasa offered advice: Stay in touch with friends and family "and that includes checking in with us at ESF - and supporting the generations that will come after you."

Mukasa then counseled them to hold on to the resilience they developed at ESF during the pandemic years. "If you do, you will always have optimism about tomorrow, and that is the key to a happy life."

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