The Colgate Scene
July 2002

The culmination of an extraordinary year

The baccalaureate service before the commencement ceremonies [Photo by Tom Brown]

Perhaps it was appropriate that at their commencement the Class of 2002 found themselves huddled together yet again -- this time to ward off the chill of a bracing west wind.

This was a class whose time in the Chenango Valley, Interim President Jane Pinchin reminded them, was "marked by change" that included the turning of one century to another, the transfer of executive power in the nation's capital after an "unprecedented" election and three presidents within four years at Colgate.

Commencement 2002

The courage to be
John M. Buchanan, pastor of Chicago's historic Fourth Presbyterian Church and editor and publisher of The Christian Century, delivered the sermon at the baccalaureate service prior to this year's commencement.

The web of happy ones
International relations major Arnoldas Pranckevicius '02 is one of only 70 individuals in the world to receive the prestigious Rotary World Peace Scholarship from Rotary International.

Honoris causa
Honored at commencement with honorary doctorates were Mary Frances Berry, John M. Buchanan, E. Virgil Conway '51, Muhammad Yunus, as well as commencement speaker Charlie Rose, who cited his fellow recipients as examples to behold.

And of course, Pinchin added, there was the change that arrived on September 11, 2001, "when instantly all that followed was in new time."

"Here on campus the quad in full sun, cloudless, filled with students, faculty, staff: all of us come together as we were to do again the next day, in a bond that took us out of our ordinary lives," Pinchin said. "W.B. Yeats's line befits that moment, a `terrible beauty' was born. In the words -- the speeches, the poems, the prayers -- we used to make sense of life; in the single stringed instrument that sent a eulogy across the silent quad."

Pinchin told the Class of 2002 that she felt privileged to be with them in September and throughout the "extraordinary year that followed."

"In August I had said: I am an interim president, but this will be no interim year. And of course it was not. Marked by excitement and energy -- the COVE and the Palace Theater, the campus coming together again, on Homecoming and on Martin Luther King Jr. Day -- as well as by our own tragedy, the death of seven alumni on 9/11," she said. "We hear their names read aloud, for the last time, as they have been at all public occasions this year: Sharon Balkcom, Nestor Cintron, Scott Coleman, Edward Porter Felt, Aaron Jacobs, Todd Pelino, David Retik."

The 2001-02 academic year was shaped not only by "tragedy" and "heated, passionate debate," said Pinchin, but also by an "overriding generosity of spirit" she said she will always "associate with the Class of 2002."

[Photo by Tom Brown]

Elisha McLam '02 (center) with her family. McLam, who graduated summa cum laude in molecular biology and women's studies, will be attending the University of Vermont College of Medicine. [Photo by Gary E. Frank] Courtney Gildersleeve '02 (center) and her family. Gildersleeve, a magna cum laude graduate in Romance languages, was chair of the Coalition for a Better World during her senior year and received an Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Award and a Class of 1997 Award. [Photo by Gary E. Frank]
[Photo by Tom Brown] [Photo by Gary E. Frank]

Commencement speaker Charlie Rose, an Emmy-winning broadcast journalist, reminded the Class of 2002 that Colgate had taught them to "be curious and to know that things are not always as they seem, and every person and every event may have a power beyond the apparent." [Photo by Tom Brown]

"You are the director of your own life"
Honorary degrees were awarded to Mary Frances Berry, chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American social thought at the University of Pennsylvania; John M. Buchanan, editor of The Christian Century and pastor of Chicago's Fourth Presbyterian Church; E. Virgil Conway '51, former chairman and chief executive officer of the New York State Metropolitan Transit Authority; Muhammad Yunus, founder and managing director of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, and the award-winning broadcast journalist Charlie Rose, who gave the commencement address.

While waging a losing battle with the wind to keep his hood on straight, Rose urged the graduating class to find their passion and make it the center of their lives.

"In the words of Robert Frost, `My object in living is to unite/My avocation with my vocation. My two eyes make in one sight/Only where love and need are one/And work is play for mortal stakes/Is the deed really ever done/For heaven and future's sake,'" said Rose. "If your passion comes to you today, good for you. If it doesn't, keep searching. Keep experimenting. Keep expanding your horizon. If it comes five years from now, listen. Listen to your instinct. Rip out anything that tries to suffocate it. Give it space. Let it breathe. And most of all, feed it, nurture it and help it to grow. For, like learning, it will serve you forever."

Rose, who self-deprecatingly made light of the lack of class enthusiasm for his selection as commencement speaker, described himself as a storyteller in "an amazing time to tell stories."

"Journalism is about stories and you are all journalists in that you have one story to tell," Rose said. "The greatest story you will ever tell is your own. It is uniquely yours to tell. You write it, you star in it, you produce it, but you can't change the ending. You can make it -- from the first chapter to the last -- what you want it to be. You are the director of your own life."

"Colgate is a chapter in your narrative," Rose added. "What you can do is build on the story of that chapter. You have spent the last four years doing something remarkable -- You have taught yourself how to learn, and that skill will serve you for the rest of your life."

[Photo by John D. Hubbard] [Photo by Tom Brown] [Photo by Tom Brown]

Berton A. Williams '02 [Photo by Gary E. Frank]

"You live, love and cry together"
For her life's narrative, Courtney Gildersleeve '02 found that Colgate provided, among other things, the means to gain a wider perspective on the world. "A lot of that is connected with where I'm from," said Gildersleeve, a native of Proctor, Vt. "I've always had the interest but I didn't have a place to devote energy to learning about different people and cultures."

A member of Phi Beta Kappa who graduated magna cum laude, Gildersleeve said she felt that Colgate was "where she belonged" right from the start. In addition to her studies, the Romance languages major committed time and energy to a wide variety of pursuits to gain the broader perspective she sought, including volunteering to help organize activities at the ALANA Cultural Center, and serving as chair of the Coalition for a Better World.

"It's important to open your eyes to what's going on and be there for other people," said Gildersleeve, who received an Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Award and a Class of 1997 Award during her senior year.

Berton A. Williams '02, a philosophy and religion major, likely would agree with Gildersleeve. The Brooklyn, N.Y. native said that his most lasting impressions of Colgate are centered on the relationships he was able to build with faculty, alumni and, especially, the people he lived among.

"You live, love and cry together," he said. "You end up being closer to these people -- the ones you meet here -- than you were with your best friends back at home."

[Photo by John D. Hubbard] [Photo by Tom Brown]

[Photo by Tom Brown]
One source of significant, and steadfast, support came from John Bonhomme '00, an investment analyst at Goldman Sachs.

"No matter what our struggles, he kept encouraging us, telling us to hang in there, we'll end up taking the world by storm," Williams said.

Williams is also especially grateful for the guidance of his academic advisor, Harvey Sindima, associate professor of philosophy and religion.

"He changed my life," Williams said of Sindima. "He's the reason why I chose to major in philosophy and religion."

Williams isn't sure yet what path he will follow, giving thought to art school or pursuing a graduate degree in communications. He is certain that his four years at Colgate prepared him for whatever he chooses to do.

"I learned here that I can major in what I love and still end up wherever I want to be," said Williams.


After commencement, (left to right) Eric P. Tee '02, Walker C. Koury '02 and Kevin Graves '02 were commissioned second lieutenants in the United States Marine Corps. Graves represents the fourth generation of his family to attend Colgate, going back to his great-grandfather, Samuel Monroe Graves, Class of 1902. [Photo by Gary E. Frank]

Back on campus to attend Commencement 2002, Victor Perkins '01 took the opportunity to propose marriage to Lakisha Brooks '01 on the Willow Path bridge. Brooks accepted. [Photo by John D. Hubbard]
Fast facts
on Colgate's
Class of 2002
Number of bachelor of arts degrees awarded: 706
Number of master of arts in teaching degrees awarded: 1
Number elected to Phi Beta Kappa: 70
Summa cum laude graduates: 26
Magna cum laude graduates: 125
Cum laude graduates: 157
Valedictorian: Stentor Danielson, from Palmerton, Pa.
Salutatorian: Rachel Nacht, from Englishtown, N.J.
Number receiving departmental honors: 94
Number receiving high honors: 47
Number earning distinction in the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum: 22
Number earning high distinction in the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum: 3
Number of international students: 29
Number of men graduating: 326
Number of women graduating: 378

Elisha McLam '02 has wanted to become a doctor since she was a child. The native of Williamstown, Vt. is well on her way toward achieving her goal to become a pediatric cardiologist, as she is slated to attend the University of Vermont College of Medicine.

"I've worked with children my entire life and I want to continue to do that," said McLam, a double major in molecular biology and women's studies.

A member of Phi Beta Kappa who graduated summa cum laude, McLam decided to major in molecular biology because the program's inter-disciplinary approach best suited her needs. She decided to major in women's studies after taking a course titled "Gender and Culture" during her sophomore year. The course, taught by Associate Professor of Anthropology Mary Moran, was "amazing" said McLam, and broadened her perspective regarding issues of gender and patriarchy, prompting her to add the second major.

During her time at Colgate, the Charles A. Dana Scholar devoted time to a variety of organizations, including the Sexual Crisis Resource Center and the University Church, where she served as a deacon and steward.

For all her success at Colgate, which included awards for academic excellence in biology, health sciences and women's studies, McLam said she felt "overwhelmed" during her first six weeks on campus. Coming from a high school with only 45 students, McLam wasn't quite sure she belonged.

"Then I realized that background didn't matter as much as your ambition and your willingness to learn," she said.

There are two branches to Kevin Graves' story at Colgate -- his own and that of his family. Graves, an economics major, represents the fourth generation of his family to attend Colgate, going back to his great-grandfather, Samuel Monroe Graves Sr., a member of the Class of 1902 who sent three of his four sons to Colgate: Samuel Monroe Graves Jr. '36, William G. Graves '39 and Freeman Graves '41. Kevin Graves' uncle, David Graves, graduated from Colgate in 1973.

While the impact of their relatives' Colgate experience didn't dissuade them, each Graves who came to the Chenango Valley ultimately did so for their own reasons, not family pressure, perhaps with one exception. Colgate wasn't Freeman Graves' first choice, but when he accompanied his father to his 35th reunion, he found he was "admitted, period," with a partial scholarship available.

About an hour after the commencement ceremonies ended, Graves experienced another rite of passage, being commissioned as a second lieutenant (along with Walker C. Koury '02 and Eric P. Tee '02) in the United States Marine Corps. Graves and his two classmates enlisted in the Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Class program, which required two summer of training in Officers Candidate School since their sophomore years at Colgate. The program carries no obligation to serve in the Marine Corps; participants may resign before being commissioned. Graves had little doubt that he would serve, however.

"It's contrary to what my mother would want, but I want to serve as an infantry officer," Graves said. "I believe I have strong leadership skills and I don't want to sit behind a desk during the best years of my life."

Time and distance have kept the Oakdale, N.Y. native from being well acquainted with most of his forebears at Colgate. (Samuel Graves Jr., his grandfather, died in a plane crash in 1956.) But like his relatives, Graves leaves Colgate with grateful feelings.

"It's been a great experience. I feel I received a great education," said Graves, "and I've made some great friends while I was here."

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