Posted: September 9, 2009
They dressed as lobsters, ladybugs, superheroes, Muppets, dragons, and even as a firetruck. They wore red feather boas, red beads, and red tights, and they carried fistfuls of bright red balloons. A wave of red, the class of 2010 competed with juniors in yellow, sophomores in blue, first-years in green, and Frances Perkins Scholars in purple, to shout the loudest cheers and lead the Mount Holyoke community in its 2009-2010 opening Convocation.
President Joanne V. Creighton--who will step down at the end of this academic year--gave the morning's keynote address and told the seniors she, too, will be "graduating" this year.
"Mount Holyoke is by far the most inspirational among the seven campuses I’ve lived on as a student, or faculty member or administrator," Creighton said. "This place is the College and the College is this place. I hope you have claimed this place as your very own.
"But place is only part of the presence and essence and inspiration of this institution. As important as is place, it is trumped by purpose… to educate women at the highest standard of academic excellence and to prepare them to make a difference in the world," she added. "You are extraordinary women who have been given an extraordinary opportunity to connect to a powerful legacy. Take full advantage of it. We have faith in you and in what great things you will attempt and will accomplish once you leave this special place."
Associate professor of chemistry Megan Nunez struck a lighter note--and waved a magic wand--in her address, challenging students to become the heroines in their own stories.
"And who is this young woman, our heroine? She is smart, accomplished, and possessed of a certain quirk of character that inclines her to step beyond the world with which she is familiar," said Nunez. "I encourage you to open yourself up to the possibilities, and throw yourself entirely into something you find completely amazing, be it molecules or rocks, the history of women who have come before us, the development of the human mind... whatever makes you say 'wow.'
"Seek out something you've never heard of before…. By cultivating and sharing your wonder, you will make your communities better places."
In her remarks, dean of religious and spiritual life Gladys G. Moore recalled that when she arrived at MHC two years ago, she was presented with a bouquet of flowers made up of one bloom from each of her colleagues as a gift "to the newest blossom" in the community.
"You are the flowers of this institution," Moore told the students. "The future of our country and, indeed, our world depends upon people like you."
Student Government Association president May Yang '10 spoke of global events of 2009, then told her classmates the College is "a microcosm of the world and thereby susceptible to the burdens of the world."
"I know that issues of racism/sexism and other isms and inequalities can’t be resolved at Mount Holyoke, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t proactively create a more inclusive community, as individuals and as a collective," she said.
Noting the Mount Holyoke staff "rarely stand in front of the podium," Staff Council cochair Frederick Kass told students, "We too are here to help you succeed. Being a part of this great community and being able to help such an amazing group of students is what drives us and makes us excited to come to work year after year. We are here for you."
The MHC Glee Club, conducted by interim choral director Miguel Felipe, performed Ola Gjeilo's "Prelude" and led the gathering in singing the Mount Holyoke Alma Mater. Following the convocation, students, faculty, staff, and guests were treated to a community picnic on Skinner Green.