Student Trustee Sydney Gomez '17
August 29, 2016
Thank you to the Deans, Chaplin Charles, Chair of the Board Tom Bozzuto, and Dr. Gregory Vincent. Thank you President Gearan for inviting me to speak today.
Congratulations to the Classes of 2020! You did! You made it through the long orientation weekend and now you’ve finished your first day of college classes.
Three years ago around this time I remember my mother dropping me off and our goodbye right here on Stern Lawn; she was bawling her eyes out while I tried to play the nonchalant college student ready for her to leave. But deep down I was trying not to cry. I was in the same place you are today, filled with mixed emotions: excited to start a new journey, unsure of my future, anxious to meet new people, and terrified it all wasn’t going to work.
And let me tell you it works out; I found my home here at HWS through the support of my family, friends, faculty, staff and administrators. I took a leap of faith by running for Student Trustee, I learned new and old things about myself while abroad in Spain, I joined Sankofa, the Black Students’ Union and Mosaic New York, our social justice theater company. I tutored with America Reads at West Street elementary, and I DJ for our radio station WHWS. I did this all because I had nothing to lose but a lot to gain.
If I can do it, so can you. No one is stopping you, only you can get in your way, I know this first hand because I am my biggest critic. So, here’s my advice to you as you begin your journey here at Hobart and William Smith Colleges: I encourage you to take advantage of all the endless opportunities here: go abroad, start a club, join one, take an acting class, get out of your comfort zone. And you will fail but that’s okay because through failure comes strength, knowledge and success.
I encourage you to admit to what you do not know or do not understand, to be able to say I need help because there will always be someone here for you whether that be faculty, staff, administrators, your fellow peers or me. I’m here for you, come talk to me, ask questions, we can even do lunch!
I want you to have conversations with people from different backgrounds and lived experiences, you’ll find that you have more in common than you thought and the best part is you’ll have differing opinions which will make the conversation all the more worthwhile. As President Gearan says, “Reasonable people can disagree.”
Lastly, I want you to know that everything will be okay. This is just the beginning, and although you may be scared, nervous, and unsure it all works out and you find your place here. You find your home.