Caroline Demeter

September 1, 2014
Caroline Demeter '15

Thank you for the introduction Dean Gallouet, welcome back to campus everyone and welcome to Hobart and William Smith Colleges Classes of 2018! I can’t begin to tell you how much I wish I could trade places with you right now and repeat my last three years of college. This past weekend probably seemed like the longest weekend of your life but I promise you college is going to fly by!

This summer I had the pleasure of interning for the Finger Lakes Institute here in Geneva. I highly recommend spending a summer in Geneva, not only do you get to experience campus at the best time of year but you also develop a new appreciation for the city of Geneva and the Finger Lakes Region.

After speaking at an admissions student panel one Saturday in July, I left the event with a huge smile on my face. In light of everything our campus was dealing with, it was reassuring to listen to my peers reflect on their incredible experiences here at HWS. Our community is engaged, dedicated and passionate about the work they do on campus, for everyone within the community, and making a difference in the world around them. Hence our motto, worlds of experience lives of consequence.

And that has been my experience of the Colleges.

For example, last week President Gearan did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – in his suit. He nominated me and three of my classmates to take the challenge. I remember during my first year at HWS after attending one of Mrs. Gearan’s Friday open houses I called my parents ecstatic letting them know I had just made apple crisp at the President’s house! Little did I know President Gearan would eventually know my name… or nominate me for the ice bucket challenge. Anyway, after completing the ice bucket challenge I arrived back at my off campus house with my housemate and we realized we were locked out. There was absolutely no possible way of getting in, our landlord lives in Buffalo, all of the windows were locked, and it was 10:45 at night. After speaking with the Geneva Police we called campus safety in a panic. Although we had been told if you move off campus, campus safety can’t help you, they were at our house within minutes. While I was still in my soaking wet clothes from the ice bucket challenge, campus safety waited with us from 11 p.m. until 1 a.m. until a locksmith arrived. The staff at our school care about our well-being and will do everything they can to make sure we are safe and are provided with the services we need.

Our faculty is incredibly dedicated and so enthusiastic about our education. They want us to succeed.  Not only do professors want to learn your name but they also want to learn about you, and potentially be a mentor to you. Last semester in plant biology, my class made maple syrup over the course of a few weeks and when our syrup was complete our professor invited us over to her house for breakfast so we could all try it together! One year my chemistry professor brought his family to watch me and a few of his other students in our spring dance performance! This summer when I returned to campus, my room was not yet ready so one of my professors let me stay at her house! I can guarantee you that you will all develop wonderful relationships with your professors due to the values our institution holds and the incredibly dedicated faculty we have here.

As students, we also support one another, whether that’s celebrating William Smith’s soccer championship, getting together to think through how we can use the new campus farm, or editing one another’s papers, we work together.

Being here over the summer gave me the opportunity to see that collaboration up close. I attended many different meetings and conference calls with students, faculty, staff and alums about sexual misconduct. The conversations I had were heart felt, honest discussions about campus culture, and changes that need to be made as we move forward. And so it’s because of my deep belief in the power of the Colleges that I know we have the capability of taking this situation and turning it into an opportunity to become a leader among colleges by working together. We have a unique campus community and dynamic, and we are fortunate that we can develop great relationships with professors, staff and peers. I am confident we are moving in the right direction and I am so proud of the changes being made, the conversations happening and how we are handling this situation as a community.

To the first year students, I look forward to meeting you this year, and I am excited for you to become part of this amazing community.

Thank you.