Commencement 2005 ceremony highlights risk and reward
(May 15, 2005) GENEVA, N.Y.— Former White House press secretary and political analyst Dee Dee Myers advised graduates from the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Classes of 2005 to take risks, expect the unexpected—including failure—and learn from mistakes. She also spoke to them of new opportunities.
“By finishing college, you now have access to the kinds of opportunities reserved only for those with degrees. Today, you have options you simply didn’t have yesterday,” she said.
Myers used her own experiences working on political campaigns as humor-filled examples of risk, unexpected outcomes, endurance and reward. Most well known as being the youngest and first female press secretary for former President Bill Clinton in the early 1990s, Myers worked on several unsuccessful campaigns before Clinton won the presidency.
She shared what she considers one of her life’s most valuable lessons: “plan for success – but expect failure. And know that you learn invaluable lessons from both.”
The ceremony marked the 180th Commencement for Hobart College and the 94th for William Smith College. A total of 433 bachelor’s degrees were awarded to 172 students from Hobart College and 261 from William Smith College. Hobart and William Smith Colleges awarded seven Master of Arts in Teaching degrees to the first of the program’s graduates.
In his valedictory address President Mark D. Gearan also touched on opportunity, “As college graduates from one of the finest liberal arts institutions in the nation, you become part of an elite statistic: only one percent of humanity receives a college education. Use it wisely.”
He also recounted the journey of these graduating classes, from experiencing 9/11 as first-year students to ice storms, study abroad and the growth of the HWS campus, and encouraged graduates to take these experiences with them when they create their own legacy.
“And pass on important lessons as teachers: to your colleagues, your neighbors, family, spouse or partner,” Gearan said.
Student addresses were given by Regina M. Assetta of Wilmington, N.Y., and Paul M. McNeil of Spencer, Mass.
Four honorary degrees were awarded to Myers, Jane Shepard Ritter ’48, a woman committed to public service as a “professional volunteer” to the United Way and as an Honorary Trustee; a former Governor of the New York Stock Exchange Arthur E. de Cordova ’56, and Ruth Freeman, Ph.D., interim provost and dean of the faculty at HWS.
[A full transcript of Myers' speech is available at http://www.hws.edu/news/speakers/transcripts/myerscomm2005.asp; other speeches and citations for the honorary degree recipients are available at http://www.hws.edu/academics/registrar/commencement/2005.asp.]
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