Bravery, Engagement and Humor: Welcoming the Classes of 2024 – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Bravery, Engagement and Humor: Welcoming the Classes of 2024

The Classes of 2024 have arrived on campus. Their Orientation Weekend was filled with virtual opportunities to learn about the Colleges’ academics, programs and departments, and time to connect with new roommates, classmates, faculty and staff. All of the in-person programming was held outdoors, providing students with space to social distance and explore their new home.

The first-year cohort constitutes an academically impressive group, with a median high school GPA of 3.63. One of the more diverse groups in the Colleges’ history, members of the Classes of 2024 hail from 21 countries and more than 26 states, with 26 percent identifying as a person of color.

Students were welcomed to campus by Orientation Coordinators Lalaine Vergara ’21 and Garrett Downs ’22, as well as President Joyce P. Jacobsen. In her remarks, Jacobsen presented a list of themes that underlie a college education, including: bravery, commitment, engagement and humor.

“You can be lots of things. You can try on different you’s. Be brave. You’ve already been brave by coming to join us here at a time when many people are not feeling very brave. Build on that bravery, and work on pushing yourself to do things you didn’t think were you. Take a course in an area you’ve never heard of. Join a club you’ve never heard of. Reach out to another student who is very different from anyone you’ve ever known before,” Jacobsen said.

In what is now becoming a signature of her welcome to students, she also sang a song parody. This year, it was a version of “Allentown” by Billy Joel called “COVID-town.”

Students from outside of New York State arrived on campus early in order to quarantine for two weeks. Many students, who were unable to travel in the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, said it was their first time stepping foot on campus.

“I had planned to come for an admitted students’ day. I spent so much time this summer on the website looking at photos of Seneca Lake and the Quad. It’s so exciting to be able to walk around campus and to get started. I’m having a blast,” says Mary Baillos ’24, from Winnetka, Ill.

“I’m looking forward to where the next chapter in my life takes me, learning new things, meeting new friends and traveling to new places,” says Gabriel Suarez ’24, from Syracuse, N.Y. Suarez attended the Christian Brothers Academy, where he participated in soccer, skiing and bowling.

Students also Zoomed with their First Year Seminar (FSEM) classmates and faculty. A cornerstone of the Colleges’ curriculum, FSEMs help students develop critical thinking and communication skills and practices. Some of this year’s course offerings include Thinking Critically about God, Unfreedoms & the Problem of Race, Metacognition & Justice and Music and Ethics.

Chloe Parratt ’24, from Jamesville, N.Y., is taking the Sustainable Living and Learning FSEM. Attached to a learning community, the course gives students the opportunity to study the intersection between sustainability and consumption, while living with their classmates on the same floor of a residence hall. Parratt says she is eager to immerse herself fully in the topic of sustainability, as she decides whether she wants to pursue a career in environmental law.

Vuthy Vey ’24, who is from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, is studying remotely this semester. In high school, Vey studied at the Liger Learning Center, where the mission of the school is to inspire students to become agents of change in their communities. Vey is eager to study computer science at the Colleges.

“I knew I wanted to study in the United States to lay down my foundation in the sciences and to learn more about the country’s culture. Tech companies grow quickly in the U.S. and I want to know why. When my counselor told me about HWS, I was impressed by the entrepreneurial programs. They really triggered my interest.”

Sevinj Mirzali is studying remotely in Sharur, Azerbaijan.“I am excited about living and learning during this historic time.  The faculty and staff have been professional, understanding and kind-hearted. Faculty, staff and other students have welcomed me in to this HWS family. I am looking forward to having new experiences and making remarkable memories during this year.”

Nearly 38 percent of the members of the Classes of 2024 are athletes. Although fall 2020 intercollegiate athletics competitions have been canceled to ensure the safety and well-being of student athletes and the HWS community, Hobart soccer players Liam Dillon ’24, from Willison, Vt., and his roommate and teammate Guillermo Castaneda Chang ’24, from Guatemala City, Guatemala, say they are excited to get to know their coaches and team, and to begin studying the game at the collegiate level.

“As I stepped on campus, I immediately felt at home. The community togetherness reminded me of my old school – one big, happy family,” Dillon says.

All new students will participate in Kaleidoscope, the extended orientation program. The program enables students to learn about campus resources and helps them make their transition to HWS a successful one.