President Gearan, members of the board of trustees, faculty, staff, parents, families and friends, thank you for joining us today to celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of Hobart and William Smith Colleges Classes of 2005. This celebration would not be complete without acknowledging your enthusiasm, steadfast support, and mentorship for the past four years.
I have always loved to watch campus tours. They’re hard to miss. A group of slightly confused students and parents holding green glossy folders as an enthusiastic tour guides walks confidently backwards, pointing out all the unique features and opportunities at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Most of us began our time here, like this, with a tour of the campus. The tour begins by admissions where, on a clear day, the view of the lake is enough to make you pause, just for a few moments, to simply enjoy the beauty of the blue as it reflects off the water. The tour passes by Coxe Hall, the library, Smith, Stern, and Scandling Center. Sometimes a good tour stops into Saga to grab a cookie before heading back outside to check out dorms. And then, of course, before finishing up, a tour it passes through the quad.
From perfect autumn afternoons to bitter cold Geneva winters, to blissfully warm spring days, the tours have been going by. And all the while, our tour, the one we started four years ago is still going on. We’ve spent countless hours in academic buildings, in Napier, Demarest, Stern, Houghton, Smith, and Coxe, taking classes, and talking to our professors. And we’ve spent countless more hours in the library, researching, studying, furiously pulling all nighters, and occasionally falling asleep. (I personally recommend the couches on the second floor.) We’ve heard inspiring speakers, danced during folkfest, performed on many stages, and huddled together in the early morning while waiting for our assignments for Day of Service. We’ve thrown birthday parties in incredibly small dorm rooms and screamed until our throats were sore during sports matches. And, we’ve spent hours on the quad, tossing a Frisbee, sunning ourselves, or just smiling on the way to class.
I like the word commencement because commence means to begin, to take the first step. As graduating members of the classes of 2005, most of us began our journey right here on the quad, almost four years ago. I remember being a nervous first-year, not knowing a single person on campus; my entire body shook as I took that first step across the quad to my orientation SIB group. It was a scary moment, looking out at a sea of unfamiliar faces and strange buildings. But now, as I stand on the quad years later and look around me, all that I can see are the faces that I call friends and buildings that I call home. We began this journey together, a four year tour that we have chosen for ourselves. Our tours have led us to embark on academic discoveries and athletic pursuits that we should all be proud of. I couldn’t possibly attempt to mention all of the achievements that we have accomplished. We’ve found professors that inspire us, we’ve made friends that we will keep for life, and found people that we love. Our travels have led us to exciting jobs and internships, to study in foreign countries, and right back to Geneva, New York. Each one of us weaved our own path around Hobart and William Smith, finding out just the place where we belong.
As Susan B. Anthony once said, and I quote, “Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these.”
I agree with her. My greatest moments are not the ones that I can locate on a calendar; rather, they are the small intimate junctures that happen most unassumingly. They are the faces of my friends, acquaintances, and professors, and they reside the conversations and experiences that I have had every day. They are the memories and places that I have come to carve out and call my own in my time at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
So, to whatever dorm, academic building, lake, or quad that life brings you to next, take the tour. Indulge in it. Explore all the little nooks and crannies and nuances. Meet people, help people, laugh with them, and learn from them. And, don’t forget, on those beautiful days, to kick off your shoes, grab a Frisbee and give it a throw. You never know how far it will go or where it will end up.
Valedictory to the Classes of 2005, Regina Assetta '05
May 15, 2005