Connecticut College Magazine · Spring 2007


Dream Big

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Commencement May 20, 2007 "Dream Big"

Commencement May 20, 2007  "Dream Big"
Photo by Jon Crispin

Sailing between metaphors about scaling large mountains and exploring the oceans´ depths, deep-sea explorer Robert Ballard advised Connecticut College´s 491 graduates to think big.

Ballard, who discovered the wreck of the Titanic, said childhood is spent dreaming and young adulthood is spent preparing. Commencement is the moment to begin pursuing dreams. “Initially, you´ll follow,” he said. “But then you´ll lead.”

by Eric Cárdenas

In addition to his historic discovery of the wreck of the Titanic, Ballard discovered the wrecks of the German battleship Bismarck, the aircraft carrier Yorktown — lost during the Battle of Midway — and President John F. Kennedy´s PT-109. He also pioneered the early use of deep-diving submarines and led the first manned expedition of the largest mountain range on Earth, the Mid-Ocean Ridge.

Lastly, Ballard reminded the graduates that ultimately they must share their journeys and fulfilled dreams with others, to pass on knowledge and experience.

“Giving is something that may not interest you right now, but always remember life is never fulfilled, your journey is never over until you take time to give back a portion of what has been given to you by others,” Ballard said.

Prior to his address, the College honored Ballard by conferring him an honorary doctorate of science.

The College also granted an honorary doctorate of humane letters to Richard Kennedy, deputy director of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Kennedy collaborated with Connecticut College in launching the Yunnan China/Mekong Project, a broad-based and multi-faceted initiative to study, explore, sustain and present the vibrant cultural heritage of that region. CC is among the sponsors of this month´s Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

The College awarded the Connecticut College Medal to Carolyn Holleran ´60, an alumna and emeritus trustee. Holleran and her husband, Jerry, have supported the College in many ways including endowing the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy. The Connecticut College Medal is the College´s highest honor.

The Oakes and Louise Ames Prize was awarded to Kimberly Richards, a double major in government and religious studies from Cos Cob, Conn., for her honors thesis that analyzes the impact of the Christian Right on science education in public schools. The prize, named for a previous president of the College and his wife, is given to a graduating senior who has completed this year´s most outstanding honors study.

The Anna Lord Strauss Medal was awarded to H. Duncan Rollason, IV, who volunteered for three years at the Alliance for Living, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people affected by HIV and AIDS in New London County. He also did a summer internship in South Africa with the Knysna AIDS Council. The medal, named for a former member of the College´s board of trustees, is presented to a graduating senior who has done outstanding work in public or community service.

Senior class speaker Sara Skinner, of Hardy, Va., urged her fellow graduates to seek to find justice and equality in all forms.

“In realizing our own power and privilege, we must also recognize that there are those who remain disempowered and those who are denied privilege,” Skinner said. “As we leave this privileged setting to begin our professional lives, we must aim not to encourage privilege but to eliminate it, for in the end privilege always increases and necessitates inequality.”

Skinner gave examples of her classmates who worked to reverse inequality, by volunteering, working in community service or building programs to empower people.

Senior class president Christopher Bothur, of Bolton, Conn., spoke about the real value of a Connecticut College education. He gave examples of some of the lessons the Class of 2007 learned during their four years at the College, such as:

» “Professors are not just the people in the front of the class; they are friends and mentors.”
» “What it is to be an international citizen. We have gone abroad to work with street children, assist in pro-bono surgery for those who cannot afford it, research and combat the spread of AIDS, fight against the exploitation of children, and demonstrate for a more equitable world, to name just a few.”

Connecticut College President Lee Higdon spoke about the accomplishments of the senior class, including their 93 percent participation in the College´s Annual Fund.

“You have taken the senior giving program to a whole new level and raised the bar for every class who will come after you,” Higdon said.

Higdon also encouraged students to stay connected to the College and to continue to live
by the Honor Code.

“If you find yourself faltering, or perhaps in a difficult situation, reflect back on what the Honor Code has meant to you, on what this community has meant to you,” he said. “And draw strength from that.”

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