Convocation 2009

Student Trustee Dan M. DeNose '10
September 2, 2009

Good evening staff, good evening faculty, good evening to the Geneva community, good evening members of the Board of Trustees, good evening students and most importantly good evening to the Classes of 2013.

When I thought about what to say this evening, a phrase a pastor once said came to mind, "You must look to what is in your house in order to be successful."

I asked my father, "What does he mean by house?" and my father replied, "House can be interpreted as what is in your heart."

I thought about this and I realized that if I am to deliver a speech I must speak to you all about something that's in my heart, something that I speak about here on campus as well as outside of campus.

What lies inside my heart is the love of paying it forward. The love of being able to give back to those who may not have the same privilege or who are not in the same circumstances as me, as us.

There are so many things we take for granted.

The ability to walk.

The ability to see.

Freedom of speech.

The ability to be the change which we seek to see in the world.

The fact is only one percent of the world attends college.

We are lucky; we are fortunate. Or as my father would say, we are blessed.

That blessing comes with a responsibility. We have a responsibility to pay it forward.

We have a responsibility to be global citizens.

The Classes of 2011 know the answer because this was their initiative - to act locally and then act globally. We must get involved on campus and in our local community before we can enact change at the global level. What will you do to pay it forward and become a global citizen? What will we do?

This summer I was given an opportunity though the Steven Cohen Fellowship, where I worked side-by-side with one of Hobart and William Smith's finest, Lynn Shollen. Together, we created a leadership curriculum through the Centennial Center for Leadership for teenagers between the ages of 15 and 16 at a camp called Lake Delaware Boys Camp. Lake Delaware Boys Camp is a special place for many, including myself. This camp has been a place for kids who cannot afford a camp otherwise. They can attend this one for free. It has been a place for many to escape the cruel realities of life and just be a kid.

I attended this camp as a child and it changed my life for the better and with this grant I was able to pay it forward. Hobart and William Smith have given me this opportunity to give back to those who have given to me. This summer was my chance to pay it forward. It was my chance to become a citizen.

We must recognize, if we want to become a global citizen we must be locally engaged. We must give back to those who need giving.

First we have to get involved in different campus clubs like First Book Geneva, Project Eye-to-Eye, Sankofa - the Black Student Union, Emergency Medical Services, the Asian Student Union, the Latin American Organization, Habitat for Humanity, the Women's Collective, the list goes on. We have more than 70 different clubs and all you have to do is simply choose. Through the Geneva Partnership, we have programs like Give Me Five, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and America Reads. Nearly every student at Hobart and William Smith will participate in public service. It's one of the things that make these Colleges so great.

But what really sets us apart is our ability to take the lessons we've learned here on campus and in Geneva and apply them to national and global situations.  We are an institution of higher learning that is proud of creating global citizens. Global citizenship is intertwined in our mission statement.

"Hobart and William Smith Colleges are a student-centered learning environment, globally focused, grounded in the values of equity and service, developing citizens who will lead in the 21st century."

So what will we do, what will you do to make this statement true? How will you become a leader in the 21st century? How will you become a global citizen? Take heed and take advantage of our Colleges and our community. Geneva needs you and the world needs you. We are the future of this world and we are the leaders of tomorrow. Find out what lies within your house ... within your heart ... and become global citizens. Thank you for lending me your ears and enjoy your time here at Hobart and William Smith.