In celebration of their time at the Colleges, the Classes of 2015 gathered Thursday for the annual Senior Dinner, where faculty speaker and Assistant Professor of Philosophy Rodmon King called upon the soon-to-be graduates to consider two points: first, to reflect deeply upon their time at HWS, and second, to understand how to make a difference in the world despite life’s challenges.
“As you go out into the world, one of the things that you should try to do with your life is to reach out to those around you,” King said. “Be the person who shows love and empathy; be the person who builds bridges and builds community. If we remember that our lives are all woven together, to form one common destiny; if we understand that justice is what love looks like in public, we can make a world free of racism; a world free of sexism; a world free of homophobia; a world where everyone can stand equal and as an ally to each other. This is a world that you can bring forth.”
For his address, King read from 3″ by 5″ style notecards in, as he said, tribute to Civil Rights leader and organizer Bayard Rustin, who use similarly styled cards when he laid out plans for the 1963 March on Washington.
The Senior Dinner began with the annual procession led by President Mark D. Gearan from Coxe Hall to Houghton House where attendees enjoyed reflections from campus leaders. The dinner was followed by the President’s Toast and the President’s Garage Band performance. The event is part of Senior Week and Commencement Weekend at the Colleges.
At the dinner, William Smith Senior Class President Tatyanna Jack ’15, who emceed the event and offered the student address, asked her classmates not to forget the exciting and ever-changing journey they’ve been on since Orientation.
“This was a new chapter that was shaped before we arrived and as our expectations shifted, our younger selves shifted as well, but we’ve all managed to grow and adapt and come into this new version of ourselves,” Jack said.
During her remarks, HWS Chaplain Lesley M. Adams HON’12, who is giving this year’s Baccalaureate Address on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Trinity Church, called upon the Classes of 2015 to revel in the many wonderful memories of their time at HWS.
“As we share this festive meal together, I invite you to share that photo album of your mind,” Adams said. “Even as you take selfies and Instagram the present, I invite you to reminisce together, solidifying your memories and stories to tell again when you return to a tent not unlike this one, in 2020, ’25, ’65.”
Dean of William Smith College Catherine Gallouët and Dean of Hobart College Eugen Baer HON’07, P’95, P’97 also shared remarks to celebrate the Classes of 2015.
“Keep close to your heart all the real experiences and emotions HWS afforded you,” Gallouët said. “Be real, be yourself, and don’t forget us. Because we won’t forget you.”
During his remarks, Baer implored students to consider what it means to be truly “grounded” as they prepare for graduation. Baer said: “To be well grounded, you need to have one foot off the ground, all the time.”
Following the Senior Dinner, which also included opening remarks by Gearan, the seniors and members of the HWS community walked to the Vandervort Room of the Scandling Campus Center to hear the President’s Toast and enjoy an evening of music.
“On behalf of our faculty and staff, and everyone in the Hobart and William Smith community – we toast you – for your academic achievements; for the difference you’ve made in the classroom and outside the classroom, here in Geneva and around the world,” Gearan said during his toast. “Hobart and William Smith is a better place because of the Classes of 2015. So it is with gratitude for all that you’ve done and excitement for the promise of your careers – we can’t wait to have you back to tell us about all that you’ve accomplished.”
Following the toast, the Garage Band played a setlist of classics, from “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen and “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles to Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” and Bill Withers’ hit, “Lean on Me.” The all-star lineup featuring faculty, staff and Geneva community members, also welcomed to the stage Student Trustee Nicolas Stewart ’15 and Call Security guitarist Michelle Poulin ’15 to join in on a rendition of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.”
Members of this year’s Garage Band included: Gearan, Baer, Gallouët, King, Religious Life Secretary Patty Blue ’77, Associate Professor of English Rob Carson, Sodexo cook Joe Calabrese, Associate Professor of Biology Mark Deutschlander, Professor of Media and Society Les Friedman, Professor Emeritus of Economics Jo Beth Mertens, Associate Professor of Chemistry Justin Miller, friend of the Colleges Paul Quartaro, friend of the Colleges Dave Rogers, Professor Emeritus of Sociology Jim Spates, Professor of Economics Bill Waller, Digital Learning Consultant Stan Weaver and Associate Professor of Dance Cadence Whittier.