Buffalo State College will hold its 136th Commencement on Saturday, May 10, in the college Sports Arena. Roughly 2,500 students will receive their degrees during two baccalaureate ceremonies—at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.—and one master’s hooding and C.A.S. ceremony at 6:00 p.m.
Nearly 200 students received awards for outstanding work in their disciplines. Seven Buffalo State graduates received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, the highest honor bestowed by the State University of New York.
LaToya E. Codner earned a bachelor of arts in theater and achieved a GPA of 3.82 while participating in every theater production on campus since her freshman year. Codner served as vice president of Casting Hall and was active in the African American Students Organization and the Fashion Students Association.
Nayrobi M. Rodriguez, who earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science with a GPA of 3.91, plans to pursue a career in international relations. She first came to Buffalo State as a high school student participating in the Math/Science Upward Bound Program.
Adrienne L. Watz earned a master of arts in history with a museum studies concentration and a graduate certificate in museum studies with a GPA of 4.0. Her academic achievements have been recognized with the Donald D. and Barbara J. Leopard Memorial Scholarship and membership in Phi Alpha Theta, the history honor society.
Kristen M. Weisel earned a bachelor of science in education in exceptional education and achieved a 3.96 GPA. Weisel was inducted into Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society for education, and she presented original research at the Association for Childhood Education International Conference.
Natale R. Sciolino and Matthew R. Tarasek each will receive the President’s Medal for Outstanding Undergraduate Student in addition to the Chancellor’s Award. Sciolino, a psychology major with a minor in chemistry, received several competitive undergraduate research awards. She plans to continue her graduate studies in behavioral neuroscience.
Tarasek, a chemistry major with a minor in physics, achieved a 3.96 GPA while playing on the Bengals football team. He conducted research into several topics, and presented his findings at several conferences, including the American Chemical Society’s national meeting in April 2008.
Brian D. Dubenion will receive the President’s Medal for Outstanding Graduate Student in addition to the Chancellor’s Award. He earned a master of science degree in student personnel administration with a GPA of 3.9. He also served as president of the Graduate Association of Student Personnel Administrators, and he received the Hamlin Park Community Charles T. Perkins Scholarship for community work.
Distinguished Alumnus Awards
Distinguished Alumnus awards will be presented to Byron W. Brown, ’83, mayor of Buffalo; Brian M. Higgins, ’85, member of the United States House of Representatives; and Leonard S. Sikora, ’50, retired administrator from the Buffalo Public Schools.
Brown was elected mayor in 2005 after serving in the New York State Senate and the City of Buffalo Common Council. He has served Buffalo State as a member of the Buffalo State College Foundation Board and as president of the Alumni Association.
Higgins served on the City of Buffalo Common Council and the New York State Assembly before he was elected to Congress. As a U.S. representative, he serves on the House committees on Transportation and Infrastructure, Oversight and Government Reform, and Small Business. He has served the college as a member of the Buffalo State College Foundation Board.
Sikora’s 41-year career as a teacher and administrator included many groundbreaking initiatives. His generosity toward Buffalo State includes support of the Burchfield-Penney Art Center and an endowed scholarship, the Leonard and Irene Sikora Endowed Technology Education Scholarship Fund.
Undergraduate Commencement Address
Amy Jo Berman, ’87, vice president of casting for HBO films, will deliver the Commencement Address at both undergraduate ceremonies. Berman has earned a reputation for recognizing the industry’s best actors and producing the highest quality casts for the network’s award-winning films and miniseries.
Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters
Tom Calderone, ’86, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the State University of New York. As president of VH1, he is one of media’s most influential executives. Calderone launched his media career at WBNY-FM 91.3, Buffalo State’s student-run radio station.
College Council Medal and Graduate Commencement Address
Arlene F. Kaukus, ’75, president of the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, will receive the Buffalo State College Council Medal. Kaukus began her United Way career in 1979. She will deliver the Commencement Address during the master’s hooding and C.A.S. ceremony.
President’s Distinguished Service Award
Eunice A. Lewin, who co-chaired the Buffalo State College Foundation scholarship galas in 2007 and 2008, will receive the President’s Distinguished Service Award. Lewin’s service has raised more than a half-million dollars for Buffalo State’s All College Honors Program Scholarship Fund.