It was a night of reflection and celebration as seniors, faculty and staff gathered on the grounds of Houghton House for the traditional Senior Dinner. Director of the Abbe Center for Jewish Life and Hillel Adviser Julianne Miller opened the evening of “accomplishment and transition” by telling students, “Each of you has been a blessing during your years at HWS, to your professors, to your friends and to yourselves.”
Interim President Patrick A. McGuire L.H.D. ’12 welcomed seniors with a reminder of all that has connected them in their four years — and all that will connect them after they leave campus.
“The world may seem like a big, chaotic place,” he said, “and in many ways it is. But you’ll find that it’s full of surprises and wonder and moments that remind you just how connected we all are.” The president concluded his remarks with the traditional Irish blessing “May the Road Rise to Meet You.”
William Smith Dean Lisa Kaenzig P’22 and Hobart Dean Khuram Hussain then took to the podium, where Kaenzig noted that the Classes of 2019 experienced tremendous change in their years on campus — and raised their voices to make change of their own. “You wanted to make it better,” she said, “and we are all the better for it.”
Hussain echoed those remarks. “Your class will carry the legacy of evolving our community,” he said.
Hobart Senior Class President Marcel Johnson ’19 and William Smith Senior Class President Ifunanya Okeke ’19 advised classmates that they shouldn’t compare themselves to anyone sitting next to them at Commencement. “It’s about creating your own path and finding your own happiness,” said Johnson, while Okeke reminded classmates “the more you compare yourself to other people, you’ll fail to appreciate and recognize the multitude of amazing things you bring to the table.”
The featured faculty speaker for the evening was Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies Craig Talmage, who began at the Colleges shortly after the Classes of 2019 first came to campus. He guided the audience through each semester they’ve spent together over the past four years, highlighting notable moments of institutional and personal growth and change, from the launch of the entrepreneurial studies minor and the opening of the Bozzuto Center for Entrepreneurship to the election of Joyce P. Jacobsen as the first woman president of the Colleges.
Talmage concluded with a look toward the future and a challenge to students: “As you go out in the world to lead lives of consequence, I ask you to remember not just what you learned, but whom you learned from during your time here.” He then thanked the Classes of 2019 for “leaving this place better than how you found it.”
The dinner was followed by the Senior Toast and a performance from local band Darwin in Bartlett Theatre at Coxe Hall, where Okeke and Johnson presented McGuire with an engraved beer glass filled with Guinness on behalf of the Classes of 2019.
In his final toast as interim president, McGuire thanked students for all they have taught him over the years and offered them “a wish that you persevere” before raising a glass and offering and a hearty cheer of “Sláinte!”
More coverage on Commencement 2019, including photo galleries and videos can be found here.