The sanctuary of Trinity Church was filled with the words, reflections and joyful notes of HWS students, faculty, staff and Geneva community members Saturday afternoon as the traditional Baccalaureate ceremony offered the Classes of 2012 and their families solace amidst the excitement of graduation.
“Over the past 24 hours, I have heard over and over again: ‘where are you?'” began Chaplain Lesley Adams. “You are here. You are here physically, and now I welcome you to be here spiritually. I invite you to lay aside anxieties – about tomorrow, about the weather, about your future -and to be here.”
The tradition of the Baccalaureate can be traced all the way to eighth-century England. This year, the ceremony featured performances by the M.L.K. Memorial Choir, the Colleges’ Chorale and Midlakes Brass ensemble.
“It’s not about you and what you do – it’s about the greater cause and what you do for the community and world around you,” said Jenna Lohre ’12, one of three student speakers to share a short contemplation.
This fall, Lohre will venture to Ohio, where she will attend graduate school to become a foot surgeon. “Like the foot, a small part of the body, I may be small – but I have the power and ability to do great things.”
Cristian Cedacero ’12 also reflected on all that he gained from the Colleges during his short time in Geneva. “HWS has taught me that it is not only in the classroom that we learn – in fact, some of the most important things we learn in life are discovered through service and hard work.”
Cedacero also spoke about looking to his future as he prepares to embark on a journey to Sub-Saharan Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer. Despite the major challenges evident in taking on such a large responsibility, Cedacero feels well prepared. “I am sure I will be okay because of everything that I have learned here.”
Timothy Carter ’12 recalled his first time visiting campus – getting lost looking for it at night. “It is hard to imagine ever getting lost here,” he said. “Every street is now mapped into my nervous system.”
When first considering colleges, Carter wanted his experience to be profound, not one of simply going through the motions – attending classes and being handed a diploma after four years. “I sought ways to apply myself, to make positive changes to Geneva,” explained Carter, who spent countless hours teaching at DeSales High School in Geneva and volunteering at the Rural and Migrant Ministry in Lyons. “HWS was there every step of the way.”
President Mark D. Gearan introduced Interim Provost and Dean of Faculty Patrick A. McGuire HON’10, who delivered this year’s Baccalaureate address. “Pat is someone who is innovative, who has worked to push these Colleges forward,” remarked Gearan. “He has engaged this campus and community in innumerable ways.”
As the members of the Classes of 2012 and their families prepare for Commencement, McGuire spoke of the more than 40 ceremonies he had the privilege of attending during his time at the Colleges.
“Tomorrow I will be there, and I will be delighted because of all of you,” said McGuire. “I have walked with you through the streets of New York, Toronto, London, Romania and Dublin. I have seen you at your best and I have seen you at your worst. Throughout all of this, you have always been compassionate, and I have seen who you really are.”
McGuire encouraged the graduates to take a moment, when crossing the stage, to look out at the audience, to look out at their future, and to consider the faculty, staff and Trustees behind them who have always been – and always will be – their biggest supporters.
“Have the confidence to take risks and seize opportunities,” urged McGuire. “Reach out your hand to others; see how dependent these people are on your strength. Reach out, extend your hand, and seize the world.”
Pictured above is Interim Provost and Dean of Faculty Patrick A. McGuire HON ’10.