Sydney Gomez

Sydney Gomez '17
William Smith Senior Speech
May 14, 2017

Do you know the power of a door? It opens and closes, but most importantly it allows for people to enter a space. The greenish door at 690 South Main - the front door of the President's House - has been a door that is welcoming and loving. It has had many students and Geneva community members walk through it religiously for 18 years. The Gearan's home has been a physical representation of their care, kindness, love and service to the HWS and Geneva communities.

I remember the first Friday I went to Mrs. Gearan's open house. She opened that greenish door with a warm smile and a welcoming greeting, and down the hall I saw the kitchen full of laughing students. To see how comfortable everyone felt in the kitchen either engaging in conversation, trying to figure out which cookie to eat, or having a slice of pizza, I knew this was a special place and that the Gearans would forever be part of my HWS experience. For the past four years, I could always count on that door being open on Fridays whenever I wanted to visit and if for some reason there was not an open house, it was guaranteed that a note would be posted explaining why and that “we'll see you next week.” Living on South Main for two years, I've been able to pass that door numerous times and enjoy the decorations representing whichever holiday season, whether it was pumpkins surrounding the porch or a wreath on the door. Walking through that door created the sense of belonging and community I found here at the Colleges. The Gearan's home has offered a home away from home right here on campus for many students.

After walking through the doors of HWS, we have witnessed many successes of our community. The William Smith soccer team dominating on the field, how they came together in support of Courtney Wagner and her family. This past fall, Hobart football was able to compete against defending national champion Mount Union in the first round of the NCAA Division III Football Championship; we're graduating our first class of POSSE Scholars who came all the way from California to be in Geneva and to make an impact on our community; as individuals, we have been able to impact our peers, faculty, staff and Geneva community in big and small ways. But what has been so special over these past four years is that we have been able to come together as a community from standing in solidarity for Black Lives Matter, Women's Rights, and equity for all to celebrating President Gearan at the Presidents Ball. I'd say we have had one great experience.

As I look out at all of you - the purple and the green still distinguishable yet together in solidarity, we have opened a door for the classes to come after us. We did it. We recognize that Hobart and William Smith Colleges is a very special and unique place. Since 1822 for Hobart and 1908 for William Smith, both Colleges having unique histories and traditions that have been carried out through the years and even new ones are forming as we grow as one HWS. I want you all to recognize the wonderful accomplishments you have had here and the doors that they have opened for you; whether as Fulbright Scholars, Peace Corp volunteers, starting your own business, becoming a teacher, working on Wall Street or returning to give back to Geneva. Look around, to your left, your right, in front of you and behind. These are your peers; many of whom you know, whom you've had class with and many of whom you've seen in passing, in Saga, or even for the first time during senior week. I want you to think back and remember that moment where you found your sense of place here— whether it was meeting your best friends; forming connections within the Geneva community; an eye-opening moment in your Frist Year seminar or a certain class; hanging out in the common rooms of JPR, Sherrill, the Hill or the mini quad our first year; bonding with your fraternity brothers, club board members, or teammates, or even walking through that greenish door on South Main. Think back to that moment and hold on to it. We may not realize it now, but HWS has shaped and has left a mark on us that will allow us to lead full lives of consequence as engaged global citizens. We are the leaders of tomorrow and have the power to change the world.

So as one door closes another one opens. We are moving on to the next chapter in our lives. As President Gearan analogizes when speaking of commencement--"Objects in mirror are closer than they appear"--meaning this is our last time as undergraduates at Hobart and William Smith, but we will never be too far away. HWS will always have a place in our hearts and minds.

To my fellow graduates, as students our voices mattered and as alumni our voices will matter even more.

To current students, faculty and staff, I ask you all to continue to grow as a community striving for change, inclusion and diversity.

To the administration and the trustees, thank you for your support, and moving forward we will need your help. If we can all keep to our duties and work together, HWS will continue to be the special place we all know and love dearly.

To President and Mrs. Gearan, thank you for your hard work, dedication, and love for Hobart and William Smith Colleges over the past 18 years. I am so grateful for your unwavering support of my success, and the success of the HWS and Geneva communities. Thank you both for always opening your door.