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Celebrating Convocation 2004: The “Greening” of MHC

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This Week at MHC

Mount Holyoke College News and Events Vista The College Street Journal Archives

September 10, 2004

Celebrating Convocation 2004: The “Greening” of MHC

Photo by Fred LeBlanc

Seniors Kristel Thompson and Jennifer Gomez

By Cheryl Klufio ’05

Green “things” sprouted with the light autumn rain at Mount Holyoke on Wednesday, September 8. At the convocation ceremony held in Chapin Auditorium to usher in the College’s 168th academic year, no leaf was left unturned. It was all there, from emerald and olive green to pine and viridian green. One student was bundled in the deep green curtains of her dorm room, another was tightly wrapped in green cling film by the designer Saran. Chapin resounded with peals of applause from the College community as the class of 2005 processed amidst all that green—the class color for this year’s seniors—in black caps and gowns.

Rev. Dr. Andrea Ayvazian, Protestant chaplain, began the ceremony by welcoming 572 first-year students from 35 states and 32 countries, the “mighty class of 2007,” the “remarkable class of 2006,” and, last but not least, the “senior class.” Ayvazian said it was her hope that while at Mount Holyoke, students would use not only “your mind and your brain and your head” as stated by Jack Black in the movie School of Rock, but also “your heart to connect deeply with one another” and “your hands to be of service to the wider community.”

Rebecca Brent ’05, the Student Government Association (SGA) president, rose in her turn to “welcome home … the greatest class that Mount Holyoke has ever seen.” In addition to listing recent achievements of the SGA, Brent paid tribute to the institution that has been “instrumental in shaping us into the women we were meant to be” and encouraged students to reciprocate and “rebuild and reshape [Mount Holyoke] into the place we want it to be.”

Staff council cochair Pat Serio, senior administrative assistant at the Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Arts, then urged students to avail themselves of the “diverse, distinct, and welcoming community” of support staff at Mount Holyoke College that “work[s] behind the scenes to make this institution the spectacular place that it is.” Serio invited students, in the spirit of Emily Dickinson, to “make every minute count, work hard, relax and have fun, dream big, and just imagine the possibilities.”

The final greeting came from assistant professor of English and American studies Michelle Stephens who said she could relate to the “reigning emotion … of giddiness,” indicative of “impending liberation.” Stephens encouraged the class of 2005, now “way past that first-year green feeling,” to “stop … look both ways and then again a third time before you cross that street into your senior year and the rest of your travels beyond South Hadley.” She encouraged students to consider both who they have become and their destination and to “do everything to ensure that you are in control of where you are going.”

To the accompaniment of a melodious invitation to “Come with me and we can run across the sky” from the M&Cs, a Mount Holyoke’s a cappella group, the assembly pondered over the gems of wisdom—emeralds, of course—that had been imparted to it.

President Joanne V. Creighton, lighting up the stage with her blinking blue earrings, explained how Mount Holyoke, “in a Dickinsonian way” is “such a beautiful place to be.” She highlighted the fact that more important are the people, who make the College so “formative and transformative,” proposing diversity as a “necessary antidote” to global conflict.

The president then spurred students to play a more active role in politics and government, citing the Weissman Center’s Voter Registration Drive on September 12. Creighton urged students to “approach world citizenship with confidence … and ambition.”

Mount Holyoke alumna Ivy Tillman ’83 led the gathering in a soulful rendition of the alma mater.

Sister Shamshad Sheikh, chaplain to the College and adviser to the Muslim community, brought the ceremony to a graceful close with a final blessing.

Faculty recessed, and organ music gave way to reggae, modern Arab music, and R & B. The community milled into Blanchard, Ham-McGregor, Prospect, and Rockefeller for a picnic that even rain could not spoil.



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