Class of 2012 Reflects on Hartwick Experience at Baccalaureate

May 25, 2012

President Drugovich addresses the assemblyHartwick College faculty, staff, friends, and family gathered Friday, May 25, with the members of the Class of 2012 at Foothills Performing Arts & Civic Center for this year's Baccalaureate ceremony, continuing a weekend of events celebrating their final days as Hartwick students.

Addressing the graduates, President Dr. Margaret L. Drugovich opened the ceremony with words of praise for their accomplishments and growth during their four years on Oyaron Hill.

Reflecting on their time at Hartwick, four of this year's graduates - Mark Blazek, Jaimie DeJager, Katherine Derby, and Hannah Kennedy - were chosen to speak for the Abraham L. Kellogg Oratorical Prize. After an introduction from Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Meg Nowak, each recounted their time on Oyaron Hill as a fond experience filled with memories and lessons to last a lifetime.

Kennedy took the podium to speak about the mathematical concept of the Sirpinsky Carpet, which is made up of interlocking white and blue squares that "go on infinitely until you realize there isn't any white carpet, but it is all blue."

"It is the same for the people at Hartwick," she said. "We come from all over the world and have so many different experiences that at first it seems as though there are many different colors to the Hartwick carpet. But once you look closer and start to see the little details, it is quite apparent that we are all connected and in fact we are all blue. Hartwick blue, to be correct."

DeJager recalled a poem titled "The Dash" and its examination of how we spend our time, in this case the time spent learning and living on Oyaron Hill.

"I believe the majority of us would not be much for changing our experiences at Hartwick if we had the chance," she said. "Maybe a little less homework and fewer stairs, but in essence the experience provided to us through Hartwick is too good to change.

"For instance, I bet not many would take back that J Term experience, or the joining of a team," she continued. "I bet none would take back their decision to join a brotherhood or sisterhood or change their decision on coming to this school, this school which we call home. We may have learned things in different ways or practiced in different professions, but what we will take from our four-year experience here at Hartwick is something powerful, meaningful, and most of all unchangeable."

In a musical interlude, pianist Kim Patterson accompanied soprano Jessica Lane '12 in a rendition of Aaron Copeland's "Once I Thought," which was greeted by an enthusistic round of applause when complete.

Returning to the speaking portion of the evening, Derby recalled her J Term experience in Puerto Rico.

"Thinking back on my time at Hartwick, I can't help but reflect on that J Term and how much it helped me piece together who I am," she said. "Some of us came to Hartwick a blank slate, ready to absorb anything and everything we could, while others had already started their masterpiece.

"Our work of art only grew with each class we took," she continued, "every exam we passed, or didn't, every connection made whether it was with a professor, a staff member, or another student, and every new college experience we had - it all added to our mural, which in the end would describe our entire life."

The last of the four student speakers, Blazek spoke of everyday items, and the special significance which experience imparts upon them.

"In my work with admissions, I take families on tours through almost every building on this campus, and to them they're just buildings, but I see more." he said. "I see late nights in the library struggling to finish a paper. I see the faculty offices where professors offered help and encouragement. The fact that each one of us is sitting here today means you made it through some tough times, and we all know it wasn't alone."

Chosen by the Class of 2012, Associate Professor of Chemistry John Dudek offered words of advice and wished graduates well in his speech, which centered on Sadie Carnot's steam engine and the second law of thermodynamics.

"While your engine motors down the road of life, the journey may seem lonely," he said. "It is far from it. Your family and friends have been there to support you and will continue to support you. This journey is not easy; it can be very frustrating and very rewarding, often both at the same time. No matter what happens, there will always be a person or group of people to act as your copilot, your Chewbacca.

"I don't know what the world will look like in 10 years, but I do know that you have the tools to succeed in it," he continued. "Your experience here at Hartwick has provided you with a solid foundation. Through your interactions with faculty, staff, and your colleagues, you now have a broad base of knowledge and the critical thinking that will help you succeed in this rapidly changing world. You can do it!"

Closing the ceremony, President Drugovich again addressed graduates and their families, recognizing their accomplishments and growth throughout their time at Hartwick.

"You have fanned the embers of possibility," she told the Class of 2012. "You have learned in these years he truth that you are more than you thought you could be, and more than you could have imagined. Be proud of what you have accomplished, and be confident that this is only the beginning for you.

"Hartwick is now and always will be a community of people, now your community of people," Drugovich continued. "We are the community you have helped to create. Those of us who remain will care about you in the decades that come as much as we care for you now. Please visit us as often as you are able, you will always be welcomed with open arms."

The audience then rose to its feet as soprano Kristen Knapp '12 sang the College's Alma Mater, "Oyaron, Hill of Dreams." The Hartwick College Brass Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Jason Leo Curley performed G. F. Handel's Water Music as the Class of 2012, their faculty and College Administration recessed to the Foothills lobby where families gathered for hugs and photographs.

View Hartwick's Baccalaureate 2012 photo gallery.

Following the ceremony, graduates and their families headed back to campus for this year's 1-to-Go celebration, with music, food, and dancing marking their last night as Hartwick students before Saturday's morning's Commencement ceremony under a gala tent on Elmore Field.

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes a uniquely experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a unique January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable

Contact: Christopher Lott
Phone: 607-431-4030