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‘Endless possibilities’ await, Ross tells Class of 2022

State University of New York at Fredonia President Stephen Kolison presents a degree to a graduate Saturday morning.

State University of New York at Fredonia graduates were encouraged to embrace the “endless possibilities” that await the next stages of their lives during the 195th Commencement ceremonies on Saturday morning.

That message came from the Hon. Trini Ross, a 1988 graduate of the university and current U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York. Ross opened her remarks asking for a moment of silence for the “senseless” racially motivated hate crime that led to 10 deaths that occurred one week ago at a Tops Market in the city of Buffalo during a mass shooting by an 18-year-old.

After noting one of the region’s darkest days, Ross urged graduates to look for opportunities that help better the communities they will live in while making a difference in the lives of those who closely surround them.

Ross’ journey to Western New York’s top federal law enforcement official began as an engineer at SUNY Fredonia. After taking a sociology course, a different path for her future began to emerge that led to studies in criminology and the legal system.

“Don’t be afraid to change course, switch paths, be flexible,” Ross told graduates. “Your definition of success will change as you change. It isn’t always about having more, sometimes it’s about having less and doing more.”

During the two ceremonies on Saturday, university officials said 841 students would be graduating as members of the Class of 2022. While Ross spoke in the morning session, state Sen. George Borrello spoke during the afternoon session.

Borrello discarded his prepared remarks, to the delight of the audience, and spoke enthusiastically about the area as a wonderful, unique and beautiful place to be. He reminded graduates they were not limited in where they could live and work, “No longer does your job decide where you have to live,” adding, “this is a great place to be.” He added that Fredonia, and the “big hearts in Western New York,” will welcome them back at any time.

At the morning event, participants sweltered in the Steele Hall auditorium as temperatures had already reached 83 degrees at 10 a.m. Graduates, parents, family members and attendees could be seen fanning themselves throughout the event as President Stephen Kolison Jr. oversaw his first in-person commencement, which he noted was a “special” occasion.

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