Meggie Schmidt '10
May 16, 2010
Welcome and thank you President Mark D. Gearan, Provost Teresa Amott, members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, Doctor George and Doctor Harriet McDonald, honored guests, family, and the Classes of 2010.
This semester, I participated in the signature, bidisciplinary course Two Cities with Professor of Economics Pat McGuire and Professor of Sociology Jim Spates. Fifty-two days ago, as a class, we witnessed one hundred and fifty-nine men graduate from Ready Willing & Able, a rehabilitation program for formerly homeless and incarcerated men established by the Doe Fund in New York City. Jerry, Hakim, Randy; I spent five hours with them that morning emptying garbage cans on the Upper East Side of Manhattan . I have seen pictures of their children, empathized with their humbling efforts to emancipate their lives from addiction. For many, this was their first graduation.
Fifty-two days before my own commencement, I heard the refrain of one hundred and fifty-nine graduates- I am somebody, I am somebody. Their voices resonated with newly won clarity, self-possession, and initiative. Their rapid progress could not be rivaled, even by my own preparations for graduation.
Inspiration should not be underestimated. In their declaration- I am somebody, I am somebody- I heard mirrored the resolute confidence we have all gained from Hobart and William Smith. Here, we were given the opportunity to develop community, to chart the growth of our academic, social, and political enterprises. I am eternally grateful to my friends, the professors, and faculty who supported me in revitalizing the arts community by creating and sustaining Arts Collective. I am excited to see the annual Fashion Show expand and thrive in our absence. I am forever impressed with the talented, female and male leaders I have met here; who, through example, have demonstrated the value of social activism. Thank you to the Women’s Collective for Take Back the Night and the Vagina Monologues, for the resurgence of HWS Votes during the 2008 election, and the important presence of service learning clubs like Project Eye to Eye. The Go Green Campaign, Campus Greens’ effort to lower our school wide carbon footprint, will forever mark our lifestyles. Remember Dean Eugen Baer’s green hands plastered all around Scandling Center? Compost is now the new trash. Both the Away Café and the Aleph have encouraged me to share my stories and memories from Bath, England with the campus. Our global and cultural experiences, both abroad and on campus, have created the foundation for a life of transcending borders and propelling ourselves into the unknown. After my positive experiences here, my brother decided to apply Early Decision this fall. Nick Schmidt, Hobart Class of 2014, I am confident that you will benefit from this school as much as I did.
Classes of 2010, your college degrees are currency. Challenge their worth. Contort your college degree. Empty it into recycling cans in your sustainability efforts, preserve it in folds of the New York Times, exhale it into the encouragement you give others. These contortions will provide insight, will allow you to reach higher levels of personal and professional fulfillment. The more committed you are to understanding the complexity of your potential, the more you will begin to pay forward your college education. Realize that although you earned the degree you received today, it is a privilege. In respecting your education, you accept the responsibility to serve others with what you have learned. You are capable, work honestly. We all are somebody, we all are somebody.
Thank you Mom and Dad, my brothers, family, and incredible friends. Congratulations Classes of 2010.