Ready for the ‘Real World’
Media studies major Jillian DeArville reacts as she is photographed by her 11-year-old cousin, Keith Manning, before the start of yesterday’s graduation ceremony at Colby-Sawyer College. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
Colby-Sawyer senior Cory Schofield talked about “the real world” during his commencement address yesterday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
The members of the Colby-Sawyer College Class of 2013 lines up before their graduation ceremony yesterday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
Graduate Kendra Hotchkiss cheers during yesterday’s ceremony. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
New London — It is the time of the year when college graduates are often given that not-so-subtle reminder from their elders that they are about to enter the “real world.”
From Cory Schofield’s perspective, he and his Colby-Sawyer College classmates have already had experiences in that world, one of which was frighteningly real for one graduate.
“As students, we have all come across that ominous phrase, ‘the real world.’ People use it to paint the picture of a horrible post-apocalyptic world we’re about to enter. Well, let’s debunk that myth,” Schofield, a media studies major from Concord, said in his senior address at yesterday’s commencement.
He then cited several accomplishments by students — from athletic achievements to arts productions — before concluding with this: “And when one of our classmates, who was volunteering near the finish line of the Boston Marathon last month, rushed into that scene of pure chaos and terror, and, despite his own fear and confusion, selflessly offered his aid to anyone he could after the Boylston Street bombs went off. … I can’t think of anything more real than that.”
The audience under the large tent on the college lawn erupted in loud applause, with most wondering who the student was. After a few seconds, senior Alexandro Fusco, of North Reading, Mass., rose and was given a standing ovation with even louder applause.
From the welcome remarks to the awards to the conferring of 260 diplomas, yesterday’s 90-minute celebration, a culmination of four years of hard work and achievement, was punctuated often with cheering and applause.
“We are gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2013,” said Janet Bliss, a 1971 Colby-Sawyer graduate and marshal for the college who was named professor emeritus for her long years of service. “The sun indeed choose to shine on you today.”
Seniors Willie Bacote and Jeramey Winfield gave a powerful performance of the national anthem that was followed by welcoming remarks by Colby-Sawyer’s president, Thomas Galligan Jr.
Galligan recalled a letter he wrote four years ago before his son left for his first year of law school. He offered the same advice to welcome the freshman class to Colby-Sawyer that year. From getting a good start in the morning to a good night’s rest, the advice was direct and simple and timeless.
He told students their routine, or cycle of life, will change for most after graduation, but they should always take time pause, reflect and review.
“So, take those breaks,” Galligan advised. “Take that time. Make sure you reassess. Otherwise, you might look back in 20 years and say, ‘Wow, where did it go? What did I do? Did I do what I wanted?’ So, create your own cycles.”
Other nuggets of advice: Be receptive to what you like, be receptive to the views and backgrounds of other people, and fall in love.
“Love people. Love your work. Love ideas. Love a cause. Love your planet — it is the only one you have,” he said. “You can actually make someone’s day by smiling at them or sharing a kind word.”
Natural sciences professor William Thomas gave the commencement address, using protein as a metaphor.
Although products of a complex molecular origami and shaped to fit into a perfectly ordered world with a specific task, the protein exists in “constancy,” Thomas said, and therefore could never adapt to the ever-changing world graduates live in.
“Nothing could be further from the reality of this world, the world in which you will make your lives, than the idea of constancy,” Thomas said. “Think of the changes that you have seen already during your lives, and you know that the rate of change will be even faster tomorrow than it was today.
“It will not be enough train yourself for a career. That career may be gone. You will have to be ready to tackle a new and different challenge every day, and since many of those challenges will beyond the reach of any one individual, your success will require the ability to tap into the tremendous power of cooperative work with new people in new settings.”
But with a solid liberal arts education, graduates can adapt, Thomas said. “You are prepared to take on any task, any challenge. The real question is, what will you do with that education? How will you tackle the very real challenges of the future? The answer lies in you. Each of you is unique, with a unique combination of skills, perceptions, knowledge, imagination. You have great potential. What will you do with it?”
Schofield energized the audience with his remarks. He viewed Colby-Sawyer as a community where “real people live, learn, work, play, interact, grow, flourish and test their mettle every day.”
Don’t view graduation as an end and release into this “mad world,” he said, but rather recognize “you are joining a larger community that is in desperate need of what you have to offer. Reality isn’t this harsh, horrible thing that wants to drain you of the amazing experiences and skills you’ve gained here. Reality is those experiences.
Don’t let that go to waste. Don’t let yourself forget what you were able to do here, because it was, and is, just as real as anything you’ll find in the ‘real world.’ ”
Patrick O’Grady can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upper Valley Graduates
Here is the list of Colby-Sawyer College graduates from the Upper Valley, as provided by the college: Alexander Mitsunari Washburn, Hanover; Anh Ngoc Hai Nguyen, New London; Anthony Mark Salvatoriello, Hanover; Anthony Paul Mazzilli, Wilmot; Catherine Mary Jane Jellie, Charlestown; Christina Lynn Fulford, Orford; Crystal Elizabeth Davidson, Haverhill; Danielle Renee Perry, Charlestown; Devin R. Wilkie, Cornish; Enoch Mahama Holu, Grantham; Erin Marie Adley, Lebanon; Janice Elizabeth Bartley, Lebanon; Jose Carlos Diarte Ortiz, New London; Katie L. Broughall, Grantham; Megan C. Knox, North Haverhill; Meggan Elizabeth Gonyo, Sunapee; Michael Alterisio, New London; Rachel L. Benoit, Newport; Sean Michael Stark, Georges Mills; Shaylee Katherne Monette, Lebanon; Siara Rose Dunham, Lebanon; Stephanie Marie Larpenter, Sunapee; Kylie Jean McDonnell, Woodstock; Rachel E. Kuiken, West Windsor.