Graduating Students Toast To Their Accomplishments

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

The room erupted with excitement from both students and staff. The lights were bright and colorful and the room choked with upbeat music. The aroma of succulent goods engulfed the students. The students’ interest was their future. To be more precise, the countdown to the end of their college lives.

The 100 Day Senior Celebration, presented by the SUNY New Paltz Alumni Relations Office, was held Friday, Feb. 5 at 5 p.m. in the Student Union Multipurpose Room. This annual celebration began the countdown of the 100 days seniors have left until their commencement ceremony.

The seniors who attended were greeted by food and music and tables of alumni were ready to share information on what to expect as graduation draws closer. There were tables about what commencement and post-graduation would be like and social media tables to help stay connected. Graduation is coming and Alumni Relations wanted students to be conscious of it.

Steven Posada, an alumni relations officer, said the goal of this event was to engage young alumni in their final days of college. A major objective of the event was to inform future alumni on ways to stay connected to New Paltz. The primary goal, before students become alumni, was to make students aware the Alumni Relations Office exists.

“Last year, not many students were aware that we exist,” Posada said. “We want students to know we are a resource after they graduate and to help them celebrate their accomplishments.”

The goal of Alumni Relations is to provide seniors with as many resources as possible after they graduate and take on the world. Posada said this event was a chance for seniors to let go of the stresses of school work and job searching. The opportunity to relax, take a deep breath and realize that commencement is only 100 days away gave students a friendly wake-up call.

Ryan Labita, a fourth-year graphic design major, liked how the event made him feel included in the ‘bigger picture’ of what graduation is about. He said the event informed him about his options when taking a step into the future. He was relaxed while socializing with his senior friends, saying how everyone is in the same boat.

“It connects all seniors in the sense that we all are going to graduate together,” Labita said.

While graduation day is a big deal for a senior, the 100 Days Celebration was an earlier launch of the celebration meant for students to stop and smell the roses. There will be many other things going on during graduation like finals, honor society inductions and the Senior Toast the Thursday prior. Time will be limited for seniors when the end of the semester draws near.

“We want students to embrace the time they have left in New Paltz and to experience the things they haven’t done yet, like climbing Mount Mohonk,” Posada said.

Posada said he wants students to stay connected and to understand that the Alumni Relations Office asks for nothing in return. Money is not a factor when concerning student relationships because the office is always willing to help. Assisting alumni and getting them interested in what the office does keeps them engaged after they graduate.

SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian was thrilled to have over 350 registered attendants. He said it is important to keep students up to date with what commencement will be like and to get them thinking about their graduation in general. On top of helping them with their futures, this event keeps closer tabs on alumni as they are seen off to begin their lives.

“Some of these students begin to realize that four years goes by quick,” Christian said. “It is important for them to begin thinking of themselves as alumni.”

For the students who are waking up and realizing graduation is around the corner, they begin to set plans in motion for what to do with the rest of their lives. Javier Planxart, a fourth-year English major, said he soon won’t have to plan his life around school anymore and that he can take his masters and continue his Spanish teaching as a professor.

“I was always told: ‘go to school, go to college,’ but now I see there are only 100 days left,” Planxart said. “I will soon be able to make real decisions about my future that only I can make.”

The Alumni Relations Office wants to make students mindful about their futures and to let them know graduation is only a beginning. As students take that first step into their lives outside of college, Alumni Relations will be there to give them a helping hand.