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Commencement 2010

Trustee Adele F. Schlotzhauer '83
May 16, 2010

 

A toast is a ritual in which a drink is taken as an expression of honor or goodwill and is most commonly offered at times of celebration.

Today – this gathering - is truly just the beginning of several days of celebration for this fabulous group of women before us.

So, please join me and raise your glasses – on behalf of the William Smith Alumnae Association – we are thrilled for you - Welcome Class of 2010! Salute!

William Smith, the man, was a bold visionary.

You just left the Hill where a statue of him stands – not a static depiction – but one of forward movement. Purposeful stride in place, it is an inspiring reflection of a man who had places to go and things to accomplish.

He believed that women had the fundamental right to a broad education and he dedicated his time and his wealth to that belief.

His greatest legacy is this College. His greatest accomplishment is alive in each one of you.

Your Class had the powerful experience of being here to celebrate the Centennial of the College in 2008. It was an opportunity to look in the symbolic rearview mirror and consider the impact of the past generations of women who have walked these paths he gave us.

One hundred years from now, as the Class of 2110 considers you - - - What will be your impact?

Ever since I was invited to speak with you , I asked myself that very question – What has been my impact?

And to answer it, I circled right back to William Smith, the man.

If you have ever read the plaque near his statue, you will know that it says the following: (and I quote) -

“An abundant life – these are the words William Smith used to describe a good life based on a foundation of knowledge, personal fulfillment, accomplishment and service.”

Have I had a good life – an abundant life?

Emphatically and joyfully, I can tell you the answer is yes!

The value of my William Smith education – that foundation of knowledge – defined me, shaped me, and prepared me to live a life of consequence.

The friendships I developed here are truly life sustaining and are ones I carry with me to this day - Hobart friends and William Smith friends - all sharing together life’s greatest joys and lowest moments – these cherished connections define personal fulfillment.

Accomplishment - well as we all know, there are The Famous, The Infamous, and The Rest of Us. And while I fall into that last category – if not for William Smith and the worlds of experience it provided to me, I am convinced that my accomplishments would be lesser in scope and less meaningful in their purpose.

Service – which William Smith considered to be the final component of an abundant life – Service is the giving of time, talent, and treasure – giving and giving back to what matters most to you. I fulfilled this criteria through my affiliation with the Colleges.

I love this place. I loved it when I visited as a high school senior. My Mom still tells the story of me getting into the car after my interview and campus tour and saying, “This is where I want to go.” And she will tell you - there was no turning back from that moment on.

I loved it during Founder’s Days and Moving Up Days, and those inspiring celebrations where the Elizabeth Blackwell Award was bestowed upon women of accomplishment and service. I loved it for the dedicated staff and faculty. I loved it for being in the City of Geneva. I loved it when I went to Koshare concerts and Little Theatre productions, Lacrosse Games, and Swim Meets. I loved it because the Deans were accessible, the President actually knew me, and I was encouraged and valued for contributing my ideas and passions to make a difference.

I loved it even because of the meaning of the school colors – Green for growth and forward movement - - White for purity and freedom. As a woman, those evoked powerful imagery of the possibilities I was preparing for beyond this campus.

I loved this place because of the lake. I loved it when trees turned orange and red in the fall and when others bloomed gloriously pink near Comstock and Smith Hall in the spring - - - truth be told – I only “liked” this place when it rained and snowed.

I loved it when I made my first gift to the Annual Fund in 1983 and I have continued to love it each of the ensuing 27 years when I write that check. I loved it when I became my Class Correspondent for 10 years, when I volunteered as an Admissions interviewer in Boston, when I came back to campus again and again as a Professional in Residence, when I helped plan my 25th Reunion, when I volunteer annually at the Salisbury Center for Career Services, when I sat on Alumnae Council, and now, as I serve as a member of the Board of Trustees.

What do I do in my spare time you ask?? Does she bleed green and white? Well, I am not unique or special – I am just lucky to have been given the chance to share my story with you today. It is similar to many that would be told by my fellow William Smith alums.

Because each time we return to campus we are filled with a sense of completion.

A peace.

An enormous sense of gratitude for the gifts this incredible institution gave us.

A knowledge (here/here/here) – touching my “gut,” my head , and my heart, – that this was the right place.

Our connection with William Smith is simply a labor of love.

So - - My impact?? I’m good with my impact.

And so I pose the question again - when that Class of 2110 considers you – what will have been your impact??

I ask you to hold that same bold vision that William Smith - the man - embodied as you go places and accomplish great things. And I invite you to join me as you now become an alumna of William Smith College – to make your impact – to live your abundant life - in service to your alma mater.

Gift - William Smith College.

Gift it with your time.

Gift it with your talent.

Gift it with your treasure.

Be an active and involved alumna in any way that you can.

And keep your heart filled with purpose for this amazing place.

Congratulations and Welcome!