The Classes of 2011 joined their family, friends and community members in quiet reflection during the traditional Baccalaureate held in Trinity Church on Saturday. In the end, the soon-to-be graduates were called to “repair the world, change the world and save the world.”
“This is a time of transition, a time of celebrating and a time of moving into the future,” said Chaplain Lesley Adams. “Breathe in the peace of what is and breathe out the anxiety for what is to come.”
In a ceremony stemming from an eighth-century English tradition, this year’s Baccalaureate included performances by the Colleges’ Chorale and a brass quintet. Members of the graduating classes also shared their own reflections on these final days at HWS and their time spent with friends in class and abroad.
Mustafa Sayed ’11 spoke about his experience as an international student from Pakistan and stepping outside of his comfort zone to make a new home in Geneva, while Andrea Rocchio ’11 addressed her classmates on the importance of being agents of change and utilizing the greatest gift that the Colleges have given – that of connectedness. Christa Levesque ’11, who will be remaining on campus next year as a member of the Master’s of Arts in Teaching program, shared the insights she has gained through experiencing a multitude of cultures and religions at HWS and abroad in Senegal.
Provost and Dean of Faculty Teresa Amott, who will receive an honorary degree during Sunday’s commencement ceremony, delivered a moving Baccalaureate address. Amott will be leaving the Colleges this summer to serve as the first female president of Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.
President Mark D. Gearan expressed his confidence that Amott will bring to her new position the same, as he said, “boundless energy, vaulting intelligence and commitment” that she has brought to her position at the Colleges. “Teresa has expanded how our students think about the world,” remarked Gearan. “She will be forever joined to the Classes of 2011.”
In her address, Amott reminded students of the eight goals that all HWS students must complete in order to graduate, and presented the Classes of 2011 with eight new goals – the Millennial Goals established by the U.N. in 2005. With such lofty ambitions as eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and ensuring environmental sustainability, Amott admitted that they seem like “big, hairy and audacious goals;” however, this, she asserted, is the true power of an idea.
These goals, said Amott, are compelling due to their enormous scale and beautiful simplicity. “These goals inspire and transform,” posited Amott. “Accept these goals as your particular challenge because I believe you are the first generation with the capacity to be truly global citizens.”
“The theme of service to others is threaded through your entire experience at HWS,” explained Amott, who also spoke of HWS students serving in the Peace Corps and those on campus who have watched global disasters unfold in real time – and respond just as quickly to aid those in Haiti and Japan. “You are empowered by your education, and the tools of technology at your fingertips will allow you to change the world.”
“Without you the planet will wither; we must do this, and we can. Classes of 2011: go now,” urged Amott. “Repair the world. Change the world. Save the world.”