Kilby Bronstein '14
May 18, 2014
Good Morning, President Gearan, William Smith Deans, Hobart Deans, distinguished faculty, families, and fellow graduates. My name is Kilby Bronstein and I have the greatest pleasure of being your 2014 student Commencement speaker from the William Smith graduating class.
I stand here today, in front of you, as we begin the next step of our journey. As we walk across this stage, shake presidents Gearan's hand, just as we did four short years ago. I stand before you as your equal, as your counterpart, because I too will walk across this stage and out onto the Quad where I first began my time here at HWS.
J.K. Rowling noted that, "It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously, that you might as well not have lived at all; in which case, you've failed by default." I am sure that we can all attest to the validity of this statement, whether it was struggling through freshman year bio, Professor Spates Intro to Sociology course, the Geneva winters, being away from home, playing a collegiate-level sport, losing friends, and then making new ones.
As a result of the various obstacles that have come our way, we have all become stronger, more renowned, and have definitely failed at something throughout our time here but in turn, without a doubt, have lived our lives without caution.
Today, as we gather with our family, friends, and faculty to celebrate our achievements of the past four years, it is impossible not to reminisce about our former years here and all the wonderful experiences we have shared. Let us reflect back on who we were as young freshman and who we became.
Everyone has their own way of looking back on the time they spent here, some of us will look back on the abundance of intramural sports t-shirts they have, others will turn to their many accomplishments and awards they received, and some have their long lasting relationships with professors and friends to bring them back to the Colleges.
I, for one, know that I will miss the ability to student charge whenever I am in a pinch, café sitting for hours, Quad days in the spring, hot afternoons on the lake in the fall, and walking around campus and always seeing a friendly face.
As of 1 p.m. this afternoon, we will be among those privileged enough to walk this Quad, to experience what it means to be a Hobart and William Smith student, and to rejoice in the many accomplishments we have made throughout our time here.
I walked through Scandling center the other day and realized that stepping out into the real world will be a lot like stepping into line at Saga freshman and sophomore year, just as the clock strikes 11:45 and lunch hour is upon us. It will be slow, it will be crowded, and it is going to be very, very competitive. But as Hobart and William Smith graduates, as abstract thinkers, believers, and doers, I truly think we have an amazing set of skills – and that should help us find a way around standing in line.
Right now the big question is, what are we going to do? What is our big idea? Our big plan? How are we going to make a difference? The world we live in is only going to get bigger once we leave the bright green Quad and humbling structures of Stern Hall, Medbury, and the library.
Bono, the lead singer of U2, esteemed businessman and philanthropist noted, "For four years you've been buying, selling and trading everything you've got in this marketplace of ideas, the intellectual hustle. Your pockets are full, but what are you going to spend this education on?"
As soon to be graduates of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, we have a responsibility to our past, present, and future communities. To the world we live in, no matter what our majors or minors are. No matter if we are going to be lawyers or scientists. Going to work on Wall Street, do service work, or go into the field of medicine. We must not only merely focus on our own advancements but the advancements of the world around us, as well.
The problems in this world are copious and cumbersome. But change is possible. We are the difference. Hobart and William Smith has given us a foundation to make changes and differences. HWS has reminded us every day since we arrived here with our over-packed cars and flurry of moms, dads, and siblings following us around, that we must challenge ourselves to be civically engaged. Our next challenge is to take the valuable lessons we have learned over the past four years, the networks we've made, this degree, and do something empowering with it.
A couple of months ago my father passed away and I was not sure if I was going to be able to stand amongst all of you, wearing your cap and gowns, waiting patiently to receive your diploma. But my dad always told me to never let life pass you by and those who work most intelligently make the greatest accomplishment. So, here I am standing before all of you dedicating my college career to my father, a man who even after he passed on pushed me to succeed, to cherish my education, and the grounds it was built on. So, I am asking you all what do you dedicate your college career to? And with that dedication what are you going to do with it?
We all took the same road in here and will all be taking the same one out of here, whether that is today, tomorrow, or the next. It is after this road where we will find each other again. Maybe in a new city, a new job, overseas, or wherever life may take us. Hobart and William Smith Colleges gave us an outstanding foundation and an array of life long connections and friendships.
I invite you to take your tassels, flip them, and toss those hats in the air. Why? Because we did it! It's certainly a huge milestone and achievement.
Sincerely, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you all.