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Currents: commencement

The Class of 2010 Savors a Soggy but Celebratory Commencement

Cap: check. Gown: check. Umbrella: check. Realization that there's much more to learn and that mom is still (almost) always right: check.

Cue the processional for Colby-Sawyer's Class of 2010, and let the raindrops fall where they may – strong winds, a temperature in the low-50s and torrential downpours may have rained on the graduates' parade to the tent on the college's front lawn, but the weather wasn't going to dampen smiles or enthusiasm for celebrating the accomplishments these 152 students had compiled in their time at Colby-Sawyer.

Shivering as the line halted on the quad, still out of sight of the tent, one graduate sporting delicate sandals and bare legs told another, “My mom was totally right; I should have worn warmer clothes today. Oh, well.”

For the first time, the Commencement ceremony was live tweeted through College Communications to a small but growing group of followers.

Marshal for the College Janet Bliss, associate professor of Social Sciences and Education, called the gathering to order before graduates Lauren Campiglio, Adam Clay and Mary Francis sang the National Anthem.

President Tom Galligan welcomed the students, family and friends gathered, then asked for a moment of silence in honor of graduate Genevieve “Genni” Moore, who was absent due to the death of her father earlier in the week, and in honor of all those who contributed to the graduates' success but could not be present at Commencement.

In his address, President Galligan reminded the Class of 2010 that almost four years before, on a much warmer September afternoon, they had all arrived at Colby-Sawyer with an unknown future ahead of them. “I hope you know that since we started together, you will always occupy a special place in my heart as my first Colby-Sawyer class.”

Four years later, President Galligan shared his hopes for this special class. “We want you to go out and use your intelligence, your education, your experience and your heart to make the world a better place… I truly believe that a small candle burns within all of us to be part of some positive change in the world. Why, after all, do we go to college? To be happy, to be safe, to succeed? Yes, yes, yes. But I think we also do it, at least, in part, to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. That flame flickers and reminds us that it's up to all of us to make the world better. Whatever professional or personal road you choose to follow, you can still do your part to improve life on our planet.”

“Your mission,” he told them,” is to make the world a better place for all of us and those who come after us. Your mission is to take what you know, what your families have taught you, and to combine it with all you have learned and experienced here and to go and improve the world in ways that none of us ever dreamed were possible. That is what you can do and that is what Colby-Sawyer hopes for you and from you.”

Recognition for Alumni, Faculty, Community Members

Ms. Janice Wilkins '41, a long-time resident of E. Walpole, Mass., received in absentia the college's highest award, the Susan Colgate Cleveland Medal, for her service, leadership and philanthropy at Colby-Sawyer. Ms. Wilkins earned an associate's degree in liberal arts and sciences at Colby Junior College and went on to earn a bachelor's degree in history and government from the University of Maine and a law degree from Boston University.

The Town-Gown Awards recognize Colby-Sawyer College and the New London area communities' long history of working together to enhance the quality of life in this region. This year Jerod Rockwell, a business owner and resident of Sutton, and Mary McLaughlin, the director of Residential Education at Colby-Sawyer College and a Wilmot, N.H., resident, were honored.

Mr. Rockwell, executive chef and owner of Rockwell's at the Inn at the New London Inn, sees education as the foundation of our individual and community. In recent years he has hosted six fund-raising dinners at his restaurant for several different college programs. Ms. McLaughlin received the Gown Award in recognition of her extraordinary service to the community of parents, teachers and friends of children with autism. Through her blog Mom-Not Otherwise Specified essay in a new book, Gravity Pulls You In: Perspectives on Parenting Children on the Autism Spectrum, Ms. McLaughlin shares the joys and challenges of life with a family member with autism.

In recognition of her loyal commitment to the college and service to the health care community, Colby-Sawyer awarded Dr. Joan “Pete” Peterson, Class of 1949, the Distinguished Alumni Award in absentia. Dr. Peterson, a resident of Dedham, Mass., has lived an admirable life enriched by her dedication to the valuable work she performed as a medical doctor.

Assistant Professor of Fine and Performing Arts Brian Clancy was awarded the Nancy Beyer Opler Award for Excellence in Advising in recognition of his outstanding service in assisting students in adjusting to the academic community and in their college and professional planning.

A resident of Lebanon, N.H., Professor Clancy joined the faculty in 2006 and teaches courses in the history of art and architecture, and specializes in 19th- and 20th-century American architecture, urbanism, and city planning, including research on the social history of opera houses and other building types. His research interests also include local history, historic preservation and music history. Professor Clancy earned his B.A from Yale University and M.A. and Ph.D. from Rutgers University.

Assistant Professor and Chair of Business Administration Christopher Kubik received the Jack Jensen Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award, the college's highest recognition for faculty, acknowledges the central importance of teaching and honors a faculty member who encourages intellectual curiosity within and across disciplines, communicates high expectations, and inspires students to do their best work.

Professor Kubik, a resident of Hanover, N.H., who joined the faculty in 2006, teaches classes in finance, computer applications for business decision-making, introduction to organizations and strategic management. At the 2009 Commencement, Professor Kubik received the Nancy Beyer Opler Award for Excellence in Advising. He holds a D.B.A. in Finance from Anderson University, M.B.A. from the University of Detroit and B.S. in International Business and Economics from Madonna University.

The Jack Jensen Award winner traditionally offers the Commencement Address, which Professor Kubik titled “Of Knives, Forks and Spoons.” “My comments revolve around the utensils that most of us use on a daily basis,” said Professor Kubik. “These items, the common knife, fork and spoon, provide an illustration for my thoughts related to experiences, education and life in general. Perhaps selfishly, I chose these things as a basis for my remarks to ensure that when you sit down for dinner tonight you'll remember what my speech was about.”

A sharp knife is a useful tool, a dull one is dangerous. Keep your mind sharp by continuing to educate yourself, urged Professor Kubik. As for forks, the professor pointed out that the graduates now possess the riches of a liberal arts education (the handle) yet also have a degree specific to their field of interest. “You have friendships that you may treasure for a lifetime and perhaps you have a minor that will help shape your future (your prongs). This fork of knowledge – with its various prongs supported by a strong handle – exemplifies what the world will require of you,” he explained. Spoons, meanwhile, can mix and measure. Mix it up in life, advised Professor Kubik, as he has done.

“In my career I have managed billion-dollar budgets, lobbied elected officials and now teach tomorrow's leaders (that's you). I have mixed it up. I have examined different religions, lived in different countries, savored different foods. I have mixed it up. I have shaken hands with Secretaries of State and have done the same with Mickey Mouse. I have mixed it up. I have surfed the waves off of Hawaii, camped in remote national parks, walked on active volcanoes, and hiked on Alaskan glaciers. I have mixed it up. I have laughed with my kids as we fly kites and I have cried from the simple beauty of watching them sleep. I have mixed it up.”

And then, of course, there is the spork, a word not often mentioned in commencement addresses.

“Life extends beyond these utensils – you should consider alternatives as well,” Professor Kubik concluded. “As your life progresses, I believe you will find laughter by using your fingers from time to time. I believe you may find courage by attempting to use chopsticks. I believe it is possible for you to find richness by scooping with a piece of naan. I believe you might even find some unique creativity by using that lovely spoon and fork combo – the “spork.” Graduates – a utensil is a tool for eating. Knowledge is a tool for life. Eat well. Do well.”

Honoring Our Students

The David H. Winton Baccalaureate Award, which recognizes the graduating student or students with the highest cumulative grade point average, was awarded jointly to Amy Hebert of Keene, N.H., and Megan Ruggiero of Merrimack, N.H.

Hebert is a four-year member of the Wesson Honors Program and earned a B.S. in Sport Management with a minor in Business Administration. Her department chair said of her, “Amy has stood out since she arrived at Colby-Sawyer. She is reflective and conscientious in all her decisions, personal and academic, is inquisitive and demonstrates an incredible attention to detail. She has had an incredible impact on the Exercise and Sport Sciences Majors Club, the Basketball team, and all her classes. We will miss her on campus, but look forward to hearing about her future successes.”

Ruggiero is an English major and four-year member of the Wesson Honors Program, a member of Alpha Chi, and on the Dean's List. She was treasurer of the Colby-Sawyer Players and received a Sawyer Fellowship. Megan was also active with the Women's Rugby Club team, Campus Activities Board and Community Service Club.

One professor said of her, “Megan is a scholar and leader; she is inquisitive, disciplined and creative, with finely tuned analytical skills. She is often the catalyst for class discussions that advance analysis and response to literature. She exemplifies the values of literary studies and the humanities.”

Hebert was also presented with The Colby-Sawyer Award, given to the senior who, in the opinion of the faculty, best exemplifies the ideals of the college in personal dignity, intellectual growth, contribution to campus life and constructive influence on other students.

Setting Out on a New Path as Graduates

Following the awards presentations, senior commencement speaker Amy Hebert addressed her class with her speech “From Memory Lane to the Road Ahead.”

Four years ago, Hebert recalled, “some of us were nervous, some excited, some were homesick, and some couldn't wait to unpack their belongings and settle into their new rooms. I remember that first beautiful day, as our President, the one and only Tom Galligan, gave his energetic, motivational speech. I remember that first weekend, attending campus events, getting to know my Pathway buddies, locking myself out of my room, and finally figuring out how to connect my laptop to the campus network.”

Now, on the brink of life after Colby-Sawyer, Hebert laid out the options for her and her classmates: employment already secured for some; graduate school for others; and for still others, an as yet unknown future open to opportunity.

“As the saying goes, 'do what you love and love what you do,'” Hebert advised. “Class of 2010, let us now enjoy our graduation day! Let's celebrate a magnificent journey of four fabulous years together. We are a great class made up of students, student-athletes, actors, artists, club officers, 1,000 point scorers, and now we are all college graduates. Let us, as college graduates, lead our lives with passion. Let us enjoy the journey. As said by Seneca, the Roman statesman and philosopher, 'As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.'” Let us make every day matter. Class of 2010 – congratulations!

The storm that had pounded the tent all through the ceremony had passed. With the anxiety of their first college classes long past, and the memories of their last final exams and Capstone presentations still fresh, the Class of 2010 strolled from the tent through a corridor formed by faculty and college friends to find their families as college graduates, ready to rock the world. To make it a better, more just place.

Read the speeches delivered at Commencement in their entirety and more about the award winners here.

-Kate Dunlop Seamans