More than 20 Hobart and William Smith graduates crossed the stage as first-generation students – the first in their families to graduate from a four-year college. In celebration of their accomplishments, families, staff, faculty and students gathered on Saturday, May 18 for the second annual First Generation Initiative Graduation Ceremony.
Presiding over the ceremony were Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chair of the Chemistry Department Christine de Denus P’22, who serves as director of the First Generation Initiative (FGI) and Assistant Dean of Student Engagement Shelle Basilio Murray, assistant director of FGI.
“You have showcased your talents in the classroom and studios, in concert halls, in theater and dance performances, and on the athletic fields. You have studied abroad, become involved in the HWS community,” de Denus told the graduates. “Today, you may once again be feeling excited and uncertain…Never forget where you come from and always be true to yourselves.”
She also shared a poem with the graduates titled, “Be Thankful,” by an unknown author. Each student received their own copy of the poem.
In his remarks, Interim President Patrick A. McGuire L.H.D. ’12 reflected on the numerous leadership positions at the Colleges filled by individuals who were the first in their families to go to college. Among them, McGuire himself, de Denus, Chair of the Board of Trustees Thomas Bozzuto ’68, Interim Provost and Professor of Political Science DeWayne Lucas and Vice President of Advancement Bob O’Connor.
“This diverse, impressive group of leaders began the journey to where they are now not so differently than you all here today,” McGuire said. “As you begin the next steps of your own journeys, know that you have all of us here at Hobart and William Smith in your corner, cheering you on.”
The following students were recognized for their achievements: Fallon Adair ’19, Christopher Bell ’19, Tayanna Bowman ’19, Charmaine Bing Bing Chung ’19, Leslie Colunga ’19, Carolin Martinez Diaz ’19, Madisen Francis ’19, Loretta Hauslauer ’19, Caitlin Lasher ’19, Stacy Maceda ’19, Jacqueline Matos ’19, Tameera McCardy ’19, Lauren Mercier ’19, LeeAnn Phelps ’19, Alvin Devendra Randall ’19, Saoirse Scott ’19, Al Smith ’19, Alexus Spann ’19, Christopher Williams ’19 and Swellar Zhuo ’19.
During the ceremony, each graduate received a rose from FGI that symbolized the initiative’s gratitude for how they enriched the Hobart and William Smith community. In addition, each graduate awarded a rose to a member of the audience for their support throughout their academic and personal journeys at the Colleges.