Commencement 2012


Grace Hunt '12
William Smith Senior Speech

May 13, 2012

Good morning President Gearan, faculty, members of the Board, family, friends and the Classes of 2012.

According to my father's wildly creative, traffic evasive route it takes approximately five hours and 35 minutes to reach the HWS campus from Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

This includes unavoidable traffic getting out of New York City, a restroom stop in Pennsylvania, and a 30-minute burger and shake break at Roscoe's Roadside Diner.

It is a drive I have enjoyed from the passenger seat nearly 20 times over the past four years. At 21 years old, I still do not have my driver's license, a subject of endless amusement for my HWS friends and acquaintances.

It is number one on my post graduation to do list. I promise.

My luxurious lack of responsibility on this drive has allowed me to simply sit back, enjoy, and internalize the variety of life from town to town and highway to highway.

The drive takes me from city to suburb; through farms and forests. It is a journey through both decadence and immense poverty.

Like the trip to reach it, the past four years at HWS have been filled with changing landscapes and new perspectives, struggles and elation.

And as I stand before you today attempting to figure out what comes next, and trying to make sense of how these past four years have felt no longer than six months, beauty and gratitude are what come to mind.

The saying "everything has beauty" rings especially true for us at this time, both with respect to our HWS educations, as we as the current cultural moment in which positivity and an open mind are of indescribable advantage.

At the end of today we are going to most remember the beauty of our college experiences.

Rather than remembering the snow and wind whipping us in the face as we walked from Saga to Demarest, we will remember the first sunny and warm day of spring – lying immobile on the quad and thanking the heavens for their anomalous generosity.

More than remembering the thick smell of mulch and dodging mud pellets from aerating the lawn after a long winter, we will remember how gorgeous campus was when everything once again bloomed to color.

Those finals week all nighters we spent buried under food wrappers and empty cups of coffee in the library will be remembered for how good it felt when we did well and how hard we celebrated that weekend when it was over.

We will look back on those themed fraternity parties not for how hot and crowded they were, but for the pure and uncomplicated joy of being young and alive and awake on a Saturday night.

While a number of us wrestle with learning how to cook for ourselves in the coming months, we will likely long for the endless, pre-prepared options of Saga.

And when we thinking back to the small size of our campus, we will remember that by senior year we were on if not a "hi, how are you" basis, then a friendly smile basis, with 95 percent of our graduating class.

We will remember how we felt close enough with a professor to ask for a recommendation for a job, to laugh or even curse, but mostly just to speak our mind in casual conversation.

We will remember the hours upon hours we spent in confinement doing the most bizarre and hysterical things in the company of our best friends: midnight candy runs to Wegmans, impromptu drives down route 14, disruptive wheezing fits of laughter on the third floor of the library.

These bonds, memories and relationships are not going anywhere.

They're stuck with us.

This institution and its tightly woven network have been rooting for our success since before we even arrived on this campus. They have supported that success wholeheartedly along the way, and they will always be a net to catch us should we fall.

That is a very beautiful thing.

As we take the next step in our lives, let us remember that this world is not one-dimensional.

Yes, it is the end of our college career, but it is also the spring of 2012, a time of exciting technological advancement, cures to disease, ends to war, democratic revolution.

Today is a celebration of our accomplishments and an initiation into young adulthood. It is our springboard into making this ever-complicated world a better place, to stepping into what it is we are here to do with our lives, and whom it is we are meant to spend them with.

Our HWS education has given us the agency to embrace this new world with informed opinions, and with a greater sense of purpose and self.

Together the Classes of 2012 have witnessed colossal change on both a global and personal level.

Upon our arrival as first year students, we have learned how to vote in a national election and together we have ushered in a new administration for our country.

Together we learned what it means to grieve as well as what it means to heal as we deal with the loss of a classmate and friend.

As we ready ourselves to leave this beautiful little enclave – together – to lead lives of consequence, let us remember that this is beauty in change and like the weather this year, one day you'll be getting smacked in the face with giant sleet globs and the next you'll be sunning on a patio.

Remember that sleet is what makes the sun feel so good.

Find potential in what you see at first as irreparable.

Find fond memory in where you may feel absence or loss.

Don't forget what a long drive through the countryside can teach us – what four years at this school have taught us – that everything has beauty if you're open to it.

So find and harness that. Make it yours. And don't be sorry you're not sorry.

Thank you. And congratulations.