Commencement 2015

by Andrew Wickenden ’09

“Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing.”

It was with these words, first spoken more than 130 years ago by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., that HWS Commencement Speaker David Gergen L.H.D. ’15 - Harvard Professor of Public Service, best-selling author, CNN senior political analyst and trusted adviser to four U.S. Presidents - called upon the Classes of 2015 to reflect on the lessons of service learned during their four years as undergraduates.

Gergen advised the graduating seniors that, “…we have a powerful drive to protect and help others. Unleashing that inner drive will carry you to places you’ve never thought of before.”

Today, he said, “the most important question before you now is not how to make a living but how to make a life. One day, a friend or grandchild will ask you to look back at your long life and reflect on what was meaningful. I hope you have found your greatest joy in family and service to others, that your hearts have been touched with fire, that you have lived lives of consequence.”

During his valedictory address, HWS President Mark D. Gearan reflected on the contemporary nature of identity and service. “You will live and work in an exciting and dynamic century — filled with opportunities and promise, as well as challenges and conflict,” Gearan said. “It is a time marked by fast paced change and innovation. You have already seen it since you arrived in Geneva four years ago. Our hope is that this new part of your identity as an HWS alum will provide you with the skills to navigate these changes, to analyze issues with care and empathy, to think critically about the challenges ahead, and to actively engage in solutions.”

Commencement 2015 marked the 190th graduation for Hobart and the 104th for William Smith. This year, 590 undergraduates earned bachelor’s degrees and four graduate students received their Master of Arts in Teaching.

Senior Speakers
Loren Hiser ’15 and Nick Donovan ’15 delivered the student addresses to the Classes of 2015.

“We can assume leadership positions in the arts sector, the non-profit sector, and the entertainment sector. We can be politicians, global ambassadors, and molders of young minds. We can conquer New York; conquer L.A., conquer D.C., London, and Peru,” Hiser said. “We have the potential for our reach to expand far beyond any conceivable notion we hold now, and we can do it with compassion, grace and intelligence.” —Loren Hiser ’15

“Everybody sitting in this crowd right now is chasing something,” Donovan said. “All of us are chasing someone, some career, or some dream. But what our time here at Hobart and William Smith has done is made sure that we are prepared to take on the next part of our chase.” —Nick Donovan ’15


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.