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Biden, McHugh deliver commencement addresses

Payne Horning
Vice President Joe Biden delivered the commencement address at the Syracuse University Law School graduation ceremony.

Vice President Joe Biden was the guest of honor Friday at the Syracuse University Law School graduation ceremony, but the focus of the event centered on his late son Beau Biden. 

Beau Biden, who had followed in his footsteps at Syracuse Law, died from cancer nearly one year ago. In his honor, the law school's interim dean and professor William Banks announced the first recipient of a newly established Beau Biden Memorial Scholarship.  

"We have created a lasting tribute to Beau, reflecting his impact on the college of law as well as Beau's significant accomplishments in public life," Banks said.

Beau Biden had served as Delaware's attorney general. The vice president thanked the college, saying his son's classmates and professors had stood by him when he served in the military and when he was diagnosed with cancer.

"This school continues to look out for my boy's memory, honoring him today with a scholarship named after him," Biden said. "The type of loyalty that this school has extended to me is truly rare and genuinely welcoming. The affection for the Syracuse Law School runs deep in the Biden family."

Quoting from Beau Biden's own commencement address at the 2011 Syracuse Law University graduation ceremony, the vice president urged the students to find a balance between ambition and what's important in life.

SUNY Oswego

At the SUNY Oswego commencement Saturday, John McHugh, a Watertown native and former central and northern New York congressman, delivered the commencement address. He served as the U.S. secretary of the army for six years in President Barack Obama's administration, the second-longest serving army secretary in the country's history. McHugh told the graduates that at some point in their lives they would likely fail, but he said it should not hold them back.

"Don't let it keep you from taking on that next challenge whatever that challenge might be, from embarking on a little uncertain, but exciting journey," McHugh said. "I look back and I can tell you the regrets I have are not about the time I tried and failed, but the times I failed to try at all."

Mchugh also advised the graduates to make a plan, but plan to change it as he did. He left law school early in his career, but on Saturday he was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree at the ceremony.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.