Hello Fellow Lakers,

Alex Bozymowski

Sweet, awesome, nice!

Those were just some of the superlatives Alumni Vice president Paula Patrus and I heard as we presented Laker Alumni lapel pins to the new graduates as they "Walked" during Commencement 2018. Your Alumni Association actually started this new tradition at Commencement 2017, where then-President Dan Goodrich had the honor of being the first presenter in what we intend will become a long running tradition.

Abel Arena looked fantastic - or at least I thought so - from our vantage point along the boards where the grads exited the stage. Bathed in natural light and decorated with plants and flowers, the place was spring-like and festive. A totally different vibe than one gets when attending a hockey game.

The music featuring bagpipes on the way in, and native drummers on the way out, is another ongoing LSSU commencement tradition of which I was not aware. I have attended many events featuring either "pipes" or "drums" but never both. I have always found bagpipes to be elegant and eerily spiritual. The native drums, equally moving and spiritual, but in a more primal sort of way. This unique combination was inspiring, spiritual and just a little bit rowdy, all at the same time.

Of course, the real stars of the day were the graduates themselves. They were clearly having a good time and their mood was infectious. Any nervousness I had about implementing something new quickly evaporated, as one could not help joining the celebratory mood. One chapter of life was ending and another about to begin. But this day was made for basking in the glow of accomplishment (maybe relief for some) before that next chapter begins.

Later, as I reflected on the day, I could not help but think of Commencement 1975, when I walked across the stage at Pullar Stadium. While it was a fun day, I must admit I did not share the same joy our 2018 grads seemed to be experiencing. I am sure it was because I knew I was coming back in the fall to begin study towards my bachelor’s degree. I had more yet to accomplish before I could bask in that glow.

I remember attending Commencement 1976 with my parents as part of the regular audience because Judd Arnett was presented the Finlayson Award that year and I believe gave the keynote address. Mr. Arnett, as you may recall, was a long time columnist for the Detroit Free Press and my mother was a huge fan. He, Bob Talbert and Joe Falls were daily must-reads for me too, back in the day. A couple years later, Mr. Arnett was appointed to the LSSC Board of Trustees and wrote occasionally in his column of his experiences in the Soo. I relished those articles. I could not but help flexing my Laker pride as someone with such a large public platform waxed poetic about our very special little institution of higher learning.

Just a little history side note: I believe Commencement 1976 was the last one held at Pullar Stadium. The Norris Center was under construction at the time and scheduled to open fall of 1976. I assume, therefore, that Commencement 1977 would have been the first one held there. While I have been unable to confirm or refute this in my research, I trust someone who is a better LSSU historian than I can.

I hope you can forgive my trip down memory lane, but the day was meant for nostalgia too. I would like to take this opportunity to reach out to our "Golden Grads" who will be celebrating their Golden Anniversary this coming April 27th. The Golden Graduate Society includes those who left campus at least fifty years ago, in 1969 or earlier. We define ‘graduation’ year as the last year a student was enrolled at the Soo Campus. A full slate of activities is planned and I hope you will consider participating. We had an exceptionally large group of Golden Grads at Commencement 2018 and like the new grads, they enjoyed themselves thoroughly. Golden Grads can register to participate in Commencement 2019 or you can contact Susan Fitzpatrick at sfitzpatrick@lssu.edu or 906-635-2831.

Brooke Henderson was nominated to the Alumni Board last October. Thank you Brooke and welcome aboard. Rob Steinhoff will become our new Alumni Board Vice President as Paula Patrus has stepped down from that position, although she will complete her term on the Alumni Board. Thank you, Paula, for all your efforts.

And finally, don't forget your LSSU license plate! Your initial $35 then $10 per year thereafter, directly supports LSSU and the work of the Alumni Association. Don't wait until the State says it's time to buy a new plate - consider buying an LSSU plate the next time you have to renew. Then you can show your Laker pride wherever you go. An easy way to get an LSSU plate is to join the Alumni Association as a premium member. One of the benefits of membership is that the Alumni Association covers the cost of the LSSU license plate.

Alex Bozymowski, Jr., president
LSSU Alumni Association
Class of 1975

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