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St. Lawrence University presents 571 degrees at commencement ceremony


CANTON — The sound of bagpipes filled St. Lawrence University’s campus as the commencement procession made its way around Richardson Hall and to the library quad, where graduates walked through a crowd of proud parents, siblings, grandparents, significant others, friends and mentors.

The class of 2014, with all its smiles, tears and confidence, was cheered and congratulated by a lawn full of people from across St. Lawrence County, the U.S. and Canada.

“For everything there is a time and a season. This is your time,” the Rev. Kathleen Buckley, the university’s chaplain, said during the invocation.

The processional began at 9:30 a.m. followed by the university’s 159th commencement ceremony, which included the presentation of 571 degrees, 539 of them bachelor’s degrees.

“This much-anticipated hour arrives from two directions for our graduates, one of glory and one of sadness. Our purpose is not to risk vanity in today’s good feeling of triumph, but rather it is to mark a confident and first footprint, setting the class of 2014 on its way,” SLU President William L. Fox said during a welcoming speech. “After four years, you’ve broken in at least one pair of boots, and you now are about to take a new path. Wear the boots you know and go as far as you can.”

Special speaker and honorary degree candidate Grace Potter gave an address to students and a “thank you” to the faculty.

She attended SLU for two years and started her band, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, with Matt Burr, a 2003 graduate of SLU. She left the university in 2006 to pursue her music career and recently married Mr. Burr.

“We share a common bond that no amount of passing time can change. St. Lawrence becomes a part of you,” she said. “Whether you lived off the land in a yurt, trained relentlessly in the fitness center, devoted your time to student government, jammed at Java or danced the night away at the Tick Tock, learned a foreign language, found God, found love, sang in the Gunnison chapel or Giants Stadium, our roads were different, but today we are all finally graduates of St. Lawrence University.”

Nancie Battaglia, a professional north country photographer, was awarded the college’s North Country Citation. Her photos of the north country have appeared in national periodicals including Sports Illustrated, USA Today, The Boston Globe, The New York Times and National Geographic.

“I am delighted to stand among this lawn full of Saints. It doesn’t get any better than this,” she said. “Remember, anyone who survives a north country winter can survive anything. That’s you.”

Robert J. Montgomery, a graduate who won the Joan Donovan speech contest, delivered the senior oration during the ceremony.

“So, my friends and fellow students, I would like to introduce you to your guides. Look to the front, to the sides, to your peers around you, and, finally, please take a moment to look behind you,” he said. “Don’t forget who fixed the ropes for us through the years, carried our burdens meant for shoulders strong enough to carry them, and, in some cases, clipped us directly into their harnesses and dragged us up the mountain. You certainly took every step to get here, but there are those people in our lives who make every journey possible.”

Mr. Montgomery, of Baltimore, Md., graduated Sunday with a double major in math and English.

“It’s a special place. I’ve loved it and I’ve loved the people I’ve interacted with,” he said. “I’m just happy to be representing my fellow classmates.”

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