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PSS Summer '12

An Awareness of the World

Commencement

“The Classes of 2012 have an above-average awareness of the world’s problems and what their role could be in solving those problems,” says Professor of Economics Patrick McGuire HON’10, L.H.D.’12, who has served for the past year as Interim Provost and Dean of the Faculty. “They are unique as a group in this regard.”

McGuire should know; he’s donned his academic regalia and processed across the Hobart Quad with nearly 80 percent of all living HWS alums. This year, after receiving an honorary degree for his dedication to the Colleges, McGuire once again watched as a fresh batch of seniors received their diplomas, including 225 Hobart and 245 William Smith undergraduates, as well as eight MAT students.

“Their performance here at the Colleges and the jobs, careers and graduate schools they will attend, say a lot about what these young men and women are concerned about. Their goals are broader and deeper in terms of what community means for them,” says McGuire.

With the guidance of faculty members like McGuire, the Classes of 2012 took advantage of the interdisciplinary curriculum at the Colleges and maximized opportunities such as internships, community service and study abroad. The result is a group of motivated classmates who are aware of the challenges facing communities at the local, national and global level, and who also have a nuanced perspective of how they can participate in change.

“We attended a great institution that taught us many valuable things inside and outside of the classroom, like how to effectively articulate our thoughts, and to understand the world can be ours with the power of an idea,” said Isaias Garcia ’12 during his Commencement Address. “Most importantly, we learned how to become agents of change and how we, too, can lead lives of consequence.”

Seven graduating seniors were accepted into Teach for America, a program that the New York Times recently called more competitive than getting into an Ivy League school. Seven others will spread out across the country to work in urban areas as part of City Year. Four seniors have been accepted into the Peace Corps and another is entering officer training in the Marines.

And that simply grazes the surface of their achievements, said President Mark D. Gearan, who recalled the Convocation of the Classes of 2012, when public intellectual and author Eric Liu welcomed these students to campus and told them to, “Leave the joint better than you found it.”

“And you listened,” Gearan told the graduating students during Commencement. “You have impressed me and your faculty mentors with your accomplishments.”

Gearan then listed just some of the achievements of the graduates: 46 chose to do Honors on everything from Japanese narrative art and financial literacy to myeloma cell biology and 20th century chair design. This year alone, seniors competed in 403 athletic contests with 12 teams advancing to postseason play. The graduating classes include a Fulbright Scholar, a fellow of The Princeton-in-Asia Program and yet another earned a Marshall Scholarship, one of only 36 students in the country to do so.

Brandi Ferrara, the director of the Salisbury Center for Career Services, says the Classes of 2012 have been determined in their pursuits, and took initiative throughout all four years to pursue – or create – opportunities that would marry their values and skills with their professional goals. More than 55 percent participated in internship placements, most using the Colleges’ extensive alumni and alumnae community to network. The Salisbury Center’s winter programs to explore career opportunities in New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., have seen record attendance. As a result, the majority of the Classes of 2012 have been accepted to graduate school or have already secured positions in all segments of business, finance, technology and industry.

Competing against students from the best colleges in the country, three HWS students will start working for JP Morgan this summer. Others will attend law school at places like the University of Virginia and Syracuse University. Graduates also are heading to the University of Pennsylvania for historic preservation, Penn State for biochemistry, and are attending artist-in-residence programs. Still others have formed their own entrepreneurial ventures, many in the not-for-profit sector.

“The Classes of 2012 have certainly left this joint better than they found it and I look forward to seeing the many ways they will improve this world-in acts large and small, international and national, day in and day out,” Gearan agreed.