As this year’s faculty speaker for the annual Senior Dinner held at Houghton House, Assistant Professor of Dance Kelly Johnson urged the Classes of 2016 to not live strictly by the inspirational words conjured by others, but rather to create their own meaningful quotes to guide their lives and experiences.
“As I think of graduation, all these thoughts of nostalgia and of accomplishment start to flood my brain and my heart,” she said. “I encourage you to make your own quotes, ones that are personalized and fit you.”
During her speech, Johnson thanked the Classes of 2016 for her nomination as faculty speaker and congratulated their accomplishments and stellar work over the past four years, as well as a few more words of wisdom.
“Not having all the answers doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make you immature; rather, it makes you curious. It makes you open and it means you’re still shaping who you are and more importantly, what you will be and what you want to be,” she said.
Earlier, the students began the evening in annual fashion, gathering on the steps of Coxe Hall and following President Mark D. Gearan, Provost and Dean of Faculty Titilayo Ufomata, William Smith Dean Catherine Gallouët and Hobart Dean Eugen Baer P’95, P’97 in a procession to Houghton House.
The dinner began with a prayer by HWS Chaplain the Rev. Maurice Charles, in which he quoted parts of “Crossing Thresholds” by John O’Donohue followed by the welcome address by Gearan. Class Presidents Hailey Dietrich ’16 and Dimitri Nwankwo ’16 thanked their classmates for their many successes.
“As you sit and have dinner, look to the individuals to the left and right of you,” Dietrich said. “Know that this experience has been a shared one and these people have helped build you into the scholars you are today.”
Gallouët and Baer also shared remarks.
“I have always felt like you have to own every moment; you never know what life can throw at you,” Gallouët said. “Be here, right here, and right now because if you can do it now, you can do it with your life using all the experiences you have made at Hobart and William Smith.”
During his remarks, Baer encouraged students to not think of graduation as the end of their education and quoted American philosopher John Dewey: “Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.”
The senior classes then congregated in Bartlett Theatre for the Presidential Toast and to enjoy a performance from the President’s Garage Band, which has been a staple of Senior Week since 2007.
Kicking off the event, Gearan said: “When you’re leaving Geneva, in the passenger seat of a car, if you look at the mirror, it says the following, ‘Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.’ So too for Hobart and William Smith; it will be closer than it appears with your friendship, great classes, faculty members and all that you took from the academic program here in leadership and service.”
The President’s Garage Band played a set of favorite hits, including “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen, “Stop! In The Name of Love” by the Supremes, and “Purple Rain” by Prince.
The band is composed of faculty, staff and community members including Gearan (keyboard), Associate Professor of English Rob Carson (guitar), Sodexo cook Joe Calabrese (guitar), Professor of Biology Mark Deutschlander (guitar), community member Paul Quartaro (drums) and Professor of Economics Bill Waller (trumpet). Singers for the band include: Baer, HWS Gospel Choir Director Patrisha Blue ’77, Professor of Media and Society Les Friedman, Gallouët, Associate Professor Chemistry Justin Miller, Director of Intercultural Affairs Alejandra Molina, community member Dave Rogers, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Sociology Jim Spates P’00, P’09, Presidential Fellow Nick Stewart ’15 and Director of Digital Learning Stanley Weaver.