After a weekend of Orientation events and celebrations this fall, the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Classes of 2022 were ceremoniously welcomed into nearly 200 years of liberal arts tradition.
At individual receptions for each college, Interim President Patrick A. McGuire L.H.D.’12 highlighted the unique legacies of both Hobart and William Smith, sharing stories of notable alums — from the Most Reverend Michael B. Curry ’75, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, to New York Times bestselling author Jessica Knoll ’06 — who began pursuing their passions at HWS.
The oar is both “a symbol of your connection to the past” and a recognition “that you are no longer a passenger on someone else’s trip, someone else’s ship,” Hobart Dean Khuram Hussain told first-year Statesmen. “This is your boat, this is your oar and you have arrived to make your way through deep and vast waters.”
“College is a series of sequential choices, a series of slow prodding moves not unlike those made by an oar in a body of water,” he continued. “It is impossible to know what you are about to do. It is impossible to know until you begin and you make those small, every day choices. These small choices will not only define your sense of purpose here, but also your purpose in life.”
The evening also included an invocation from HWS Chaplain Rev. D. Maurice Charles and remarks from Associate Vice President of Advancement, Alumni Relations Jared Weeden ’91.
“The reality is – you’re already a part of this family. There are thousands of alumni standing behind you and investing in your success,” said Weeden. “They will advocate for you and celebrate your accomplishments; they will offer internships and career opportunities. And they will volunteer their professional expertise and financial resources to ensure you are prepared to make a difference in this world.”
During the William Smith matriculation ceremony, Dean Lisa Kaenzig P’22 invoked the significance of the enterprise that began when the College was founded in 1908. “Our goal as a women’s college has never been more relevant or important than it is today: to encourage and support every young woman at William Smith College to reach her fullest potential and to continue our tradition of women opening doors for women,” Kaenzig said. “This is indeed a fresh start — a time to meet new people, stay connected with those who are already important to you and forge ahead into this wonderful college experience.”
The ceremony also included remarks from Associate Vice President of Advancement, Alumnae Relations Kathy Killius Regan ’81, P’13, who shared with first-year Herons the tradition of the “good luck tree,” which the earliest William Smith students touched so frequently at the top of the Hill that they smoothed a portion of the bark.
In embracing that tradition, Regan asked students to “think about the power of believing as much as the power of the luck. William Smith is a great place of history, tradition, integrity and pride, and we hope that you come to call it home and that you take chances, open doors and always stay connected to your alma mater.”
In the student address reflecting on Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell 1849, the first woman in the U.S. to receive her medical degree, William Smith Congress President Sophie Ritter ’20 noted that Dr. Blackwell embodied the resilient “spirit of William Smith” more than 50 years before the College’s founding. When she graduated from Geneva Medical College — now HWS — Dr. Blackwell “chose to show the world she could do anything that the men could do,” Ritter said. “Now, it’s your turn to follow in her footsteps.”
For more coverage on the Classes of 2022’s first weekend on campus, visit the Orientation 2018 page.