Hobart and William Smith Colleges celebrated the diverse accomplishments of the Classes of 2018 with their families in various ceremonies on May 12, the eve of Commencement 2018. This year, the Colleges awarded 521 degrees to graduates ready to pursue careers and further study.
“You have served communities near and far, taken on internships in a broad range of industries, started businesses and discovered new facets of yourselves as you have learned about and immersed yourselves in cultures around the globe,” said Interim President Patrick A. McGuire L.H.D. ’12. “Harness the knowledge and experience you’ve gained here to dream incredible dreams and accomplish incredible feats. And I know I speak for the Colleges’ community when I say that your achievements during your time here will be a strong launch pad for your future success.”
The Colleges recognized triumphs in scholarship and inquiry at the Academic Achievement Awards Ceremony in the Bristol Field House. This year, 35 students completed Honors projects; 33 seniors gained membership to Phi Beta Kappa; and 175 students received Latin praise for exceptional academic achievement. The Colleges also recognized Bingqing Zhou ’18 and Danielle Ramos ’18, recipients of the Technos International Prize, and six students who graduated with a Master of Arts in Teaching.
“We certainly hope and expect that as you go forth into the post-collegiate world, you will continue a life marked by curiosity, consequential work, independent thinking and creativity,” said Associate Professor of Biology Kristy Kenyon, chair of the Honors Committee.
Assistant Vice President and Dean of Campus Operations Stacey Pierce, who also serves as the Posse Program Liaison, delivered welcoming remarks to graduates and their families. “You travelled here from the other side of the country to share your talents and gifts with the HWS and Geneva communities. For quiet, yet impactful leaders who excel in creativity, the sciences, athletics, dance and everything in between, we’re thrilled to watch you go beyond the Colleges and continue to share your gifts and make positive impacts.”
As Posse Scholars, the students are part of one of the most successful college access and youth leadership programs in the country. To date, HWS’ partnership with Posse has created access for 50 students, with a new cohort arriving this fall.
During an open mic session with the Scholars, graduates shared reflections and thanked individuals in their lives who made significant impacts on their success.
First-Generation Student Celebration
The HWS First Generation Initiative hosted a recognition ceremony for members of the Classes of 2018 who are the first in their families to graduate from college, a distinction for approximately 15 percent of this year’s seniors.
“As a first-generation student myself, I know that this weekend brings with it both a time for celebration and reflection,” said First Generation Initiative Director and Professor of Chemistry Christine de Denus P’22, who worked closely with the students to provide support and guidance throughout their time at HWS.
“You have proven to yourself and to others that you have earned a college degree. You have done so much, and grown so much, since you arrived on campus. So tomorrow, when your name is read and you walk across those front steps of Coxe Hall, hold your head high, celebrate, and families, hoot and holler for everyone to hear.”
The evening also included remarks from President McGuire, who was also the first in his family to graduate from college. Graduates also presented roses and offered remarks of gratitude to those in their lives who have supported their achievements.
At the conclusion of the ceremony de Denus addressed the audience:
“Thank you for celebrating with us. Without you, the students who stand before us would not be where they are today. It does take a village.”