Class of 2024, Welcome Home

The following is an excerpt from an address delivered during the college’s 183rd Convocation ceremony by School of Business & Social Sciences Associate Professor Amy Carrier Lyon ’85, recipient of the 2020 Nancy Beyer Opler Award for Excellence in Advising. Convocation marks the official opening of the academic year and the matriculation of the entering class.

Over and over, I’ve been witness to a remarkable transition that happens amongst and within students at Colby-Sawyer. It’s transformational, difficult to quan­tify, hard to explain. This evolution seems to happen to you at first, but as you progress through your four years here, it happens because of you.

Our new tagline, “Explore. Connect. Make a Difference,” is the very essence of what I’m trying to describe. You explore your new sur­roundings, hear novel ideas and opinions, meet new people. You start to connect with those around you in courses, clubs, teams — you build your social network. And finally, you start making a difference. This is where you pivot from focusing inward to facing outward and seek ways to help and inspire others.

At this moment, you are poised on the brink of this evolution. You most likely feel like an awkward rookie college student. And being new at things, especially big things, can be really hard. So, to make it easier, you might try to fast-forward through the messy, difficult parts. You might resist trying something you haven’t before: having a challenging room­mate conversation, navigating Moodle, or heading to the dining hall alone. But here’s a truth: the more you’re willing to try new things, the more new things you’re willing to try. This very moment is the perfect time to embrace being that awkward rookie and dive into the beginning stages of that transformation I spoke about.

Colby-Sawyer holds the key ingredients that make this possible. The faculty and staff here thrive on supporting you, allow you room to grow, and provide necessary feedback so you know how to improve. We are good listeners. Seek us out and use us.

Your classmates will help you feel more secure, but also encourage you to take risks. Try speaking up in class. Ask a question. Weigh in on a discussion. Your professors will appreciate your effort, and you will have tried something new, which really is the start of you “finding your voice.”

Finally, there’s no better place to start step­ping up and out than in a place that feels like home. Instagram has about a million quotes from you all, describing how you felt when you first arrived on campus for a visit. The words “home,” “welcoming,” and “friendly” were used over and over.

You’ve got a perfect environment in which to build your self-confidence, solidify your iden­tity, become grounded in your own self-worth and value.

You are exactly where you belong. Every single one of you will make that transition frominward to outward by relying on the magic that has been identified by Colby-Sawyer College: “Explore. Connect. Make a Difference.”

Class of 2024, welcome home.

Amy Carrier Lyon ’85 recalls the feelings she had being dropped off at Abbey Hall by her mom on a late September day in 1981: struck with homesickness and a sense of loss, while simultaneously overcome with the feeling of being poised on the brink of something vast and promising.

In 2018, after earning an M.A. from Dartmouth College and an Ed.D. from New England College and working for 33 years in the public school setting, she returned to her alma mater as an associate professor in the School of Business & Social Sciences, where she approaches her work with an educational philosophy grounded in the concept of grit and the character traits that define it — optimistic thinking, self-control and perseverance.