LOUDONVILLE, N.Y.-Siena College anticipates awarding more than 800 baccalaureate degrees at the college’s 66th annual commencement ceremony at 10:30 a.m., Sunday, May 21.
The selected student commencement speaker is Amanda Stephens, of Herkimer, N.Y. As a biology major, she has been named to the Dean’s List and is a very active member of both the Siena community and greater community. She is volunteer chairperson of the Biology Club, helping to coordinate and increase participation in a tutoring program between Siena students and the New Covenant Charter School. She has also served as a resident assistant, a coordinator and mentor for the Siena mentoring program of the Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy, co-founder/co-president of the East Asian Students Association, and a member of the Sister Thea Bowman Women’s Center Advisory Committee, Relay for Life, Habitat for Humanity, the Multicultural Book Club, the Siena Dog Pound sports boosters, and various service actions within the Capital Region, such as the annual Equinox Dinner. She also continues to find time to nurture her faith, serving as a lector, Eucharistic minister, and campus ministry retreat team leader.
Stephens has accepted a position as an English teacher at the Yeon Sei Language School in Gumi City, South Korea. She anticipates obtaining her Master of Arts in Teaching degree from The Graduate College of Union University upon her return to the U.S., and would like to teach high school biology.
This year, Siena College will be presenting three distinguished individuals with honorary degrees.
Frank Deford, author and journalist, is the senior writer for Sports Illustrated, and is considered to be the most versatile and influential sportswriter of his time. He is also a commentator on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and a long-time correspondent for Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO. He has written 15 books, including the novel Everybody’s All- American and Alex: The Life of a Child, his memoir of his daughter who died of cystic fibrosis at the age of eight. Both were made into films. His latest book, The Old Ball Game, is about baseball legends Christy Mathewson and John McGraw. Voted six times as “U.S. Sportswriter of the Year” by his peers, he has been elected to the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters, while also winning an Emmy Award and a Peabody Award. Additionally, Deford served for 15 years as national chairman of The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Soledad O’Brien, co-anchor of CNN’s morning program American Morning since July 2003, is a respected journalist who has covered numerous major news stories, including the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the July 2005 terrorism attacks in London. In 2004, she was part of a team, which has recently been recognized by the Columbia DuPont Award for Journalism, for outstanding reporting on the Asian tsunami. Previously, she won an Emmy Award for her work as co-host of Discovery Channel’s The Know Zone. Ms. O’Brien serves on the Board of Directors of Hearts of Gold, a foundation that assists homeless women and children. Additionally, she contributes columns to several magazines, including Working Mother.
Father Peter Young, Siena College class of 1953, is a pioneer in substance abuse treatment, and is founder and CEO of Peter Young Housing, Industries, and Treatment. Starting with his first assignment as a priest in 1959, he has been a minister to and advocate for the addicted and those in recovery. Father Young was instrumental in the passage of state legislation recognizing that alcoholism is a disease, requiring treatment. He served for more than 30 years as a chaplain at Mount McGregor Correctional Facility, and founded the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment Program within the New York State Department of Corrections. His non-profit organization has helped thousands of people in this state, and is a model for substance abuse programs throughout the country. As a priest of the Diocese of Albany for more than 45 years, Father Young remains active in pastoral ministry, as pastor of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Bolton Landing, N.Y., and he leads the Mother Teresa Community in Albany.
Father Young will also be homilist at the Baccalaureate Liturgy, celebrated by college president Kevin Mackin on Saturday, May 20.