PLATTSBURGH More than 800 State University of New York at Plattsburgh students crossed the stage at the SUNY Plattsburgh Field House during the two commencement ceremonies May 17. The student speaker for both ceremonies was Carrie Jean Douglas of Au Sable Forks, who graduated magna cum laude with a bachelors degree in English language arts and a minor in womens studies. Douglas spoke about the tragedies that the students had lived through during their time at SUNY Plattsburgh, including the high oil prices, Virginia Tech Massacre, and Hurricane Katrina. However, said Douglas, amidst all of this bad news there has also been good news. While these negatives were the stories that made the evening news or that were headlining our Yahoo homepages, there was good right here at Plattsburgh State, and it started with the students, she said. Douglas went on to mention how students rallied together to raise $25,000 for cancer research, how they voted in one of the first voluntary student fees for alternative energy and how they committed thousands of hours to service projects in the community. She concluded with encouraging the graduates to make the world a better place. The 2008 Distinguished Service Award went to Dr. Robert Golden, the colleges provost and vice president of academic affairs. The award is designed to honor a person who played a key role in advancing SUNY Plattsburgh. Golden said what convinced him to come to SUNY Plattsburgh was the high level of commitment that he saw from many individuals at the college. Im still enormously impressed with the level of commitment on the part of so many of our faculty, staff, alumni, friends and, of course, students to this college, said Golden. Whatever I have done, I could not have done without their commitment, and I firmly believe that that level of commitment will ensure that our best days are ahead of us. Douglas Sloan, a 1991 graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh, received the Distinguished Alumni Award. This award honors alumni who have exemplified the college's tradition of excellence and brought credit to the college through personal accomplishments, professional achievement or humanitarian service. In his speech, Sloan encouraged students to focus on their ideals. The concept of university and what it stands for are among my three or four ideals, said Sloan. And as such, I have made my commitment to serve Plattsburgh State. I believe that those at Plattsburgh get it right with the humanity that they bring to their purpose, and I find that I continue to grow here, and I have been personally rewarded as a result of this connection. President John C. Ettling presided over the commencement ceremony as the 10th president of SUNY Plattsburgh. Awarding the diploma covers were 1957 graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh and chairperson of the College Council Donald Garrant, vice chairperson Roger Burke and council members Arnold Amell and M. Catherine Hollinshead. Dr. Lois Beach, associate professor and chair of adolescence/health education, was the faculty marshal for the first ceremony. Dr. Charles Zinser, professor of geography, was the faculty marshal for the second ceremony. The faculty marshal leads the processional of faculty and students into the ceremony, carrying the traditional college mace. During both ceremonies, The Adirondack Brass played Pomp and Circumstance and the Elgin and District Pipes and Drums played the bagpipes. The Cardinal Singers, under the direction of JoEllen Miano, associate professor of music, sang the Star Spangled Banner.