Remarks at Senior Banquet

Category: University Events
May, 2017
Albany Marriot Grand Ballroom

Senior Banquet

Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Good evening, Rensselaer Class of 2017!

I am delighted to host you for your senior banquet, which always is one of the true highlights of Commencement season for me.

This morning, the Senior Class Awards were given out in a small ceremony. I would like to take another moment to recognize the outstanding students who were honored, so that you, their classmates, can salute them as well.

  • Ms. Madeline Dery received the Leopold L. Balleisen Class of 1918 Prize, which is given for combined excellence in athletics and academics.
  • Ms. Shannon Gillespie McComb received the Willie Stanton Award for outstanding service to the student body.
  • Mr. Diego Carrasquillo received the CLASS Award for outstanding leadership and community impact.
  • Mr. Breannain McNeally received the Livingston W. Houston Citizenship Award, recognizing character, leadership, scholarship, and athletic ability.

Congratulations all, and well done!

I also would like to acknowledge the outstanding leadership of the Class of 2017. Will the members of the Class of 2017 Council please rise, and remain standing for a moment? I want to thank each of you—and especially President Michael Gardner—for your hard work and commitment.

It is hard to believe that it was just four short years ago that I welcomed you at the Approach for the first time. You came to Rensselaer from 46 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and nations around the world. You brought extraordinary academic skills to Rensselaer. Seventy of you were valedictorians or salutatorians of your high schools. You were already athletes, volunteers, business owners, and social entrepreneurs.

But in your time at Rensselaer, you have grown in intellectual agility, multicultural sophistication, and the global nature of your outlook. It has been a great pleasure for me to watch that growth over the last four years.

Of course, your professors and the Student Life staff deserve credit for helping you to grow in sophistication and creativity: Art_X, for example, was initiated during your time at Rensselaer. Nonetheless, we have been astonished by your creativity. You are innovators, discoverers, designers, entrepreneurs, and artists.

During your time here, we also have watched you grow in empathy and compassion. Your Class Gift is but one among many examples. In founding the Student Relief Fund, you will help Rensselaer students following in your footsteps, at moments when a financial emergency threatens their academic progress.

Your willingness to assist future students in a moment of crisis is not just generous, it is kind and insightful. It bodes well for all of you as future leaders.

On Saturday morning, I will have the great pleasure of awarding you your diplomas, and shaking your hands, as you move out into the world. We certainly will miss you, and insist that you return often and keep in touch.

Right now, however, I would urge you to fortify yourselves in preparation for some dancing! Please enjoy your dinner and have a wonderful evening.