President Joanne V. Creighton led the ceremony that recognizes academic excellence, community service, and the ability to lead. In her remarks, she spoke of the honor these students had brought to Mount Holyoke with their academic achievements and their work in the community at large, and how this work had enriched their own educations. "We know you will go out into the world from this corner of western Massachusetts to accomplish great things," Creighton said. "And in that, you will be following in a long line of impressive women before you, and you will lead the way for others who come after you."
Honors and awards included Phi Beta Kappa, Recognition of Student Leaders, the Weissman Center Leadership Award for Excellence, the MHC Community Service Award, the Maurice L. Rabbino Award, the Helen Warren Smith Award, the Frances H. Williams Award, the Karen Snyder Sullivan Memorial Travel Award, the Sarah Williston Prize, and the Mary Lyon Award from the Alumnae Association.
Among those receiving recognition were two Frances Perkins Scholars. Karina ("Tinker") Monroe FP '06 shared the Mount Holyoke College Community Service Award with Yaminette Diaz '06. In addition to pursuing her degree and maintaining a major presence in community service, Karina is raising triplets--all of whom were in attendance. Corin Duran FP '07, who shared the Frances H. Williams Award with Cynthia Rocha Diaz '06, humbly noted that "many of the awardees are my friends, too, and I'm proud to see them honored." All the recipients spoke of being pleased to be acknowledged. Julia T. Koch '06, who received the Helen Warren Smith Award for Service to the Mount Holyoke Community said, "The thing that has been on my mind is that I have worked really hard, and it is truly wonderful to be recognized."
A surprise ending came after the announcement of the recipient of the Alumnae Association's Mary Lyon Award to Mara Bonde '91. Bonde, a professional opera singer, accompanied on the piano by her father, music professor Alan Bonde, captivated the crowd with a solo from Puccini's La Boheme; the Edith Piaf classic, "La Vie en Rose"; and "If I Were a Bell" from Guys and Dolls. She spoke eloquently about her experiences introducing opera to inner-city and rural children, saying that if she helps one child discover the beauty of music, "then I've done my job in the spirit of Mary Lyon. This is not just a profession--it is my passion. It is a real honor to take what I love and share it with others every day.
"I was humbled to listen to these incredible stories of the students who are here now. I still use the things that I learned here at Mount Holyoke all the time. These are things that are invaluable to me and that I carry with me every day." (Bonde will be performing again at the College March 31.)
After the ceremony, light refreshments were served. After many hugs were given and photos were taken, the room cleared quickly. After all, these women still have much to accomplish.
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