William Smith women in the Class of 2013 were officially welcomed into the rich tradition of the Alumnae Association during the 36th Annual Senior Welcome Brunch on Tuesday. The ceremony celebrated the lives of women past – and cast a hopeful glance into the future.
Assistant Vice President of Alumnae Relations and Regional Networks Kathy Killius Regan ’82, P’13 welcomed the women to the gathering, first providing an integral “Latin 101 Lesson,” helping the soon-to-be graduates sort out the complexities of alumna, alumnus, alumnae and alumni.
Kathy Ford ’80, P’13 served as this year’s distinguished alumna speaker. Ford, whose daughter, Molly Krifka ’13 is among this year’s graduates, reflected on her senior brunch 33 years ago, and her admissions interview with the Colleges. Although her father, Bob Ford ’54, graduated from Hobart and she had been a frequent spectator at lacrosse games, it wasn’t until this first interview that she remembers “knowing the truth.”
“The truth was clear and significant,” recalled Ford. “The passion I gained at William Smith has reverberated through my life ever since.”
Even today Ford finds herself constantly discovering – and rediscovering – endeavors that “make her heart beat fast.” She has found herself taking on more clients, teaching yoga, writing a book, and trying her hand at quilt making. “I am cultivating seeds for all the aspects of who I am so that they may grow,” said Ford. “William Smith has been the soil that these seeds continue to find healthy ground in.”
The path that Ford has followed has allowed her to discover and explore, and has afforded her new ways to stay connected to William Smith – and she encouraged students to forge their own paths while remaining connected to the college. “Recognize what makes your heart beat fast,” advised Ford. “Let that be a guide to you as you pursue your own path.”
President of the Alumnae Association Chrissy Bennett West ’94 also commended the women for their many accomplishments, distributing the William Smith Alumnae Association Awards. This year’s recipients included Sarah Cifaratta ’13, who earned the Judith Haslam Cross ’51 Award, which honors volunteer service that has advanced the institution; Faith James ’13, who was presented with the Elizabeth Herendeen Odell ’22 Book Award, which is given in appreciation of her contribution to the Alumnae Association as an undergraduate, and in anticipation of her continuing close ties with William Smith as an alumna; and Kazia Berkley-Cramer ’13, who was named Class Correspondent.
Brianne Ellis ’13, who has served her classmates as the President of the William Smith Class of 2013, addressed attendees as this year’s student speaker. Recalling the early years of the college’s history, Ellis spoke to the long and important tradition laid down by William Smith more than a hundred years ago.
“We have experienced so much in such a short period of time; and so we begin a lifelong exploration of who we are – and what we will become,” said Ellis, who also presented Sodexo employee Shirley Hanson with the proclamation identifying her as an honorary member of the William Smith Class of 2013. “But this campus will remain home to us all. We are Herons, and we can always fly back.”
Dean of William Smith College Susanne McNally gave an emotional send-off to the Class of 2013, meditating upon that which defines their generation of young women. As William Smith students, said McNally, they had learned to think complexly about gender dynamics.
“You have been encouraged to be strong women, to stand up for yourself – and for other women,” said McNally.
McNally illuminated the incredible efforts of the women over the past four years. From helping girls in Nepal live safe lives to enabling women in Africa to receive a higher education to inspiring the young women right here in Geneva, the Class of 2013 proved exceptional representations of what it means to be a William Smith woman.
“You are a generation that already knows: life simply is change – and that puts you ahead,” explained McNally. “I am filled with confidence that you will make for yourselves rich, accomplished futures.”
Following the luncheon, all were invited to a tree planting ceremony behind Smith Hall. Each member of the class took her turn picking up a shovel, and helping to plant a pine tree in honor of college founder William Smith.
“When you came here, I imagine what you thought you’d find are answers, but what you found were questions,” remarked Chaplain Lesley Adams during the planting. “I hope that we planted these questions in your hearts and minds – and that we have given you hundreds of sisters to help you explore these questions forever.”