Commencement 2024: A Challenging Start Leads to an Even More Rewarding Finish

After a stirring rendition of “Star Spangled Banner,” Hartwick College’s 92nd Commencement ceremony began with a powerful reminder from the president of the Student Government Association, Noah Hurt ’24, that his graduating class has come a long way, dealing with the challenges of facing the monster of COVID-19, being surrounded by people in masks and not being able to even see each other outside dorms. “We let nothing get in our way,” said Hurt. “Our class is truly something special.”

Graduating senior Becca Kachmar ’24 echoed the sentiments of Hurt. “It’s finally here,” she said. “We started in COVID, so this is the first graduation I’ve ever had.”

Over 210 graduates received their degrees on Saturday, May 18, to the delight of all those in attendance under the tent on Elmore Field. Before the proud Hartwick Hawks walked the stage, one of the graduates, Michael Demarais ’24, was presented with the Abraham L. Kellogg Oratorical Prize for his speech, “Learning to Look Through Another Lens,” which he had delivered at Honors Convocation, held May 1.

Laurel Bongiorno, vice president for academic affairs and provost, then announced the Margaret B. Bunn Award for Outstanding Teaching, which recognizes faculty excellence based on alum feedback. Min Chung, professor of mathematics, was honored with this distinction and got a standing ovation from the packed crowd.

The President’s Medals for Extraordinary and Exemplary Loyalty to the College were awarded to Raymond “Larry” Laurence Miller Jr., ’73 and Thomas Meredith ’73. The distinction was bestowed upon Miller and Meredith for their significant and unwavering commitment and contributions to Hartwick College.

Honorary degrees were then conferred on Harry Bradshaw Matthews, author and founding director of Hartwick’s United States Colored Troops (USCT) Institute for Local History and Family Research; Linda Tarr-Whelan, an international expert on women’s leadership in the economy and government; and prize-winning author Douglas Brinkley, U.S. presidential historian and best-selling author.

Hartwick College 92nd Commencement Platform Party before the ceremony; College's Senior Leadership Team, President Mullen, Noah Hurt '24, and Honorary Degree Recipients: Douglas Brinkley, Linda Tarr-Whelan, Harry Bradshaw Matthews, President's Medal recipients Thomas Meredith '73, Raymond (Larry) Laurence Miller Jr. '73, Board of Trustees Chair, Kathleen M. Fallon '88

Bradshaw Matthews, who left an indelible mark on Hartwick College, wanted the graduates to remember the past as they move forward. “The spirits of my ancestors and the spirits of those earlier brave souls of Hartwick are smiling down upon us today,” he said. “To graduates, I encourage you to take with you this important history as you embark on the next chapter in your journey, while always remembering the legacy of your alma mater and its respect for all of humanity.”

Tarr-Whelan was next up to the podium, reminding the graduates of life’s true priorities. “Relationships are primary; all else is secondary,” she said. “We are all going to make mistakes; we are all going to find different ways to live but to show respect and dignity to everyone you meet is an important cornerstone for your life.”

Then, it was Brinkley’s turn to issue the commencement address. The CNN presidential historian drew from the nation’s conservation history to deliver his message to the Class of 2024. “Your Hartwick experience is not just about each other and all the humans here; it is also about the setting you are in,” he said. “And the way that beautiful nature can repair the soul. You have a sacred obligation leaving Hartwick to be stewards of America.”

After there was plenty of cheering for all the graduates who crossed the stage, Hartwick College President James H. Mullen, Jr. had this message for the graduating class.

Hartwick College graduates ringing bells during Commencement Ceremony

“You represent hope,” said Mullen. “Hope for a world that needs you and welcomes you. Embrace that world with confidence, but always temper it with humility; embrace it with strength but balance it with compassion; embrace it with kindness inspired by love. And in doing so, always remain the best and the most genuine you.”

Hartwick College graduates after Commencement Ceremony
May 18, 2024

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