Baccalaureate Celebrates Class of 2011

May 27, 2011

Baccalaureate Kellogg Prize speakers

Click here for a slideshow of images from Baccalaureate.

Celebrating the gifts of voice, verse, curiosity, understanding, and inspiration, Hartwick College faculty, staff, friends, and family gathered Friday, May 27, for this year's Baccalaureate ceremony. Members of the Class of 2011 gathered to kick off a weekend of events celebrating their final days as Hartwick students.

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

"You have become something more in the presence of one another," she said.

Reflecting on their time at Hartwick, four of this year's graduates—Heather Quarles, Brian Terbush, Ben Wronkoski, and Justin Pedersen—were chosen to speak for the Abraham L. Kellogg Oratorical Prize. Each recounted their experiences of the past four years, from January Term to campus life and classroom lessons to changes they have seen in themselves as Hartwick students.

Quarles spoke about her transition from her home in northern California, and the new home she soon found at Hartwick. "To be honest," she said, "I wasn't sure which coast was my home. ... I loved it here, right from the start. Hartwick has helped me to learn to love where I'm from, where I am, and where I am going.

"I'm taking Hartwick with me. It will mix together with my roots. Every grain of sand is a part of me, but so is every snowflake."

Terbush recalled the life lessons he has learned during his Hartwick career. As a Geology major, he compared his education with the creation of the hills of Oneonta. "Each of us is also the product of years of shaping," he told his classmates. "Every experience we've had has affected us and shaped us into the people we are today. ... We choose which experiences define us and which should be washed away with time. ... Maintain your most important experience as your foundation and you'll stay true to yourself."

Wronkoski compared the next step in the graduates' lives to The Game of Life—having to choose a career, a car, a family. But, he asked, "where's the challenge, the frustration, the tears, and the joy in that?"

"Real life should be more than moving green payday space to green payday space. The sooner we realize this, the happier we will be."

Looking back on their collective time at Hartwick, he recalled memories of hands-on research and travels around the world. "Among us, we have experienced the beauty of life," he said. "We are truly members of the global community, and we must never forget this."

Rounding out the four student speakers, Pedersen took the podium to speak about his transition from a large university to Hartwick after his first semester of college. It's a place he never thought he'd end up, he said-close to home, on a campus built into the side of a hill.

"My eyes were quickly opened," he said. "Hartwick has provided me the medium to discover who I am. Having achieved this, I'm confident that I am ready for whatever the future holds."

Continuing the celebration of different avenues of learning, graduates Drew Angus, David Bon-Keen, Sean Degan, Madeleine Jayson, Jayson Sherman, Katie Watson, and Scott Weber sang a rousing rendition of Joe Cocker's version of The Beatles' With a Little Help From My Friends that had the crowd cheering.

Also chosen by the Class of 2011, Associate Professor of English Lisa Darien offered words of advice and wished graduates well in her speech, Becoming What You Are. With excitement at being invited to speak to the class, she offered two "tiny little pieces of advice": Don't worry too much about the future, and remember that your parents love you.

To the first, she said, "You will find that life surprises all of us. You may think you know who and what you are, but you will find in time that you will truly become who you are, and that you might surprise you."

"You will find a place in this world," she said.

To the second, she reminded graduates that their parents will continue to support them in their new endeavors.

"In the end, your parents really want the same thing you do: They want you to be happy," she said, to the cheers of the graduates' families. "And being what you are will make you happy. ... Your parents just might surprise you. They know you. They love you. They want you to be you."

Darien then introduced one of her own students, Rebecca Hodder—winner of this year's Anna Sonder Prize of the Academy of American Poets for Persephone's Rebellion—to read another of her poems, In Our Blood.

Closing the ceremony, President Drugovich again addressed graduates and their families, recognizing their accomplishments and growth throughout their time at Hartwick. The audience then rose to its feet as graduate Blair Coppola sang Oyaron, Hill of Dreams.

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 Commencement ceremony at 11:30 a.m. under a gala tent on Elmore Field.

Earlier Friday, members of the Nursing Class of 2011 received their Hartwick Nursing pins during a ceremony in Stack Lounge. Click here for a slideshow of images from this year's Nursing Pinning ceremony.

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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: Jen Moritz
Phone: 607-431-4038