Campus News

Baccalaureate 2000: Hopes and Wishes for the Future

Story posted May 26, 2000

In this year of high starting salaries and market ups and downs, cherishing the immaterial was the order of the day at Bowdoin College’s traditional baccalaureate service Friday, May 26, in celebration of the College’s 195th commencement.

Kristen B. Winters, of Newport, North Carolina, gave the student address. In a speech titled "Community Service: A Gift of Hope," she reflected upon what she has learned from her volunteer work and through acts of kindness she and her family have encountered.

"Community service is the weaving together of the strengths and weaknesses of a group; it is the rich helping the poor, the healthy helping the sick, the content helping the disheartened," she said. She urged all of her fellow graduates to take the time to develop connections with others through service. "It is a gift that we give to others, and thereby, give to ourselves. Only through giving can we make this world more livable and only through loving can we become the best people that we can be."

Honorand the Reverend Professor Peter J. Gomes, kept the audience laughing enough to sneak in a few words of advice in his address titled "What You Need To Know."
He acknowledged that the students’ college years had been filled with praise and encouragement and that most fully expected to see great success in their future. "We would do you far better by warning you of the inevitable failure and frustrations that will attend you in your life beyond this campus," he said. "Life is going to be pretty untidy, pretty messy, pretty frustrating, and we hope you will make it through with the tools we have given you."

Gomes said that what he wished for the graduates were three things: endurance, passion, and serenity.

Endurance would keep them on their course, Gomes said. "The truly educated is not the one who has all the answers, but rather is the person who had the staying power... that will allow you to make your way through."

Passion would infect their lives with joy that would spread to others. "Passion is not an activity, it is not an action, but it is an attitude," he said.

Serenity, Gomes said, might seem an odd thing to wish a new graduate. ("You may think serenity is that which your grandparents have because they can’t have anything else.") What he meant by serenity, Gomes said, was "breathing space," which is hard to find in this world.

These three gifts — endurance, passion, and serenity — would give them "that peace which the world can neither give nor take away, that ‘peace that passes understanding,’" Gomes said. "They are the indispensable ingredient for the good life."

Bowdoin president Robert H. Edwards presided over the exercises. During the exercises, music was provided by the Bowdoin Chamber Choir and by Robert Greenlee on the organ. Dean of Student Affairs Craig Bradley gave selected readings from Bowdoin’s past.

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