424 Degrees Awarded at Bowdoin's 201st Commencement
Story posted May 27, 2006
During Bowdoin College's 201st commencement ceremony today, 424 bachelor of arts degrees were awarded to students from 37 different U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and 12 foreign countries. (Visit the Commencement 2006 photo gallery.)
As has been tradition since its first graduation in 1806, Bowdoin's commencement addresses were delivered by graduating seniors. This year's speakers, chosen through competition, were David Duhalde-Wine of New York City, and Alexandra Yanikoski of Harvard, Mass.
Duhalde-Wine's speech, titled "The Bonds that Tie Us," addressed the importance of politics and intellectual growth, and the drawbacks of allowing differences to determine friendships.
Two important lessons Duhalde-Wine has learned about friendship, he said, are that "no matter how passionate we are about our beliefs, we should never let our convictions dictate our friendships"; and "we ought not to abandon open dialogue as the foundation for our joint learning and mutual understanding."
Having friends with ideological differences, he said, will "allow our ideals to be truly challenged.... I believe the challenges to ideas that I have given and received created better understanding on both sides.
"We all should continually promote the variety of beliefs at Bowdoin, while discouraging those who wish to silence and discredit those they do not agree with or understand.... The struggle lies not in tolerating those we find different, but accepting and embracing their rights to live freely and trying to understand where those ideas come from."
He concluded: "Any student can respond to a comment they disagree with, but it takes a stronger student to learn how to understand where another's ideas are coming from.... The practice of politics may be flawed, but it should never flaw our relationships."
Yanikoski gave a speech titled "Bowdoin by the Sea," in which she discussed how its proximity to the ocean sets Bowdoin apart from other colleges.
"Although not part of the actual campus, the ocean contributes to the mood, sensations, and personality of Bowdoin in ways generally overlooked," she said. "From the Coastal Studies Center to the smell of saltwater clinging in the air on rainy days, the ocean is omnipresent.... I believe that the sea itself is the essence of Bowdoin."
Yanikoski noted that the sea is a metaphor for Bowdoin, and offered the words of President John F. Kennedy, writers Stephen Crane, Kate Chopin and e.e. cummings, and scientist Jacques Cousteau to illustrate her point.
Sometimes, she noted, the sea makes us feel we are clinging to the sides of an ocean-swept dinghy, eyes glued to the horizon to gain perspective; sometimes the sea "speaks to the soul" and has a calming effect; sometimes the sea reminds us that there is life beyond campus and offers a "revitalizing breath"; and the sea is "the great unifier," reminding us that we are "all in the same boat."
"As it has affected the temperature and mood at Bowdoin and provided us with both recreation and solace, the ocean is our home as much as Bowdoin is," she concluded. "So even without coming back to Bowdoin, wherever we find ourselves in the future, by going to the sea we can return home."
Bowdoin President Barry Mills presided over the commencement ceremony. In his remarks Mills acknowledged and thanked Alexander Cornell du Houx, a member of the Class of 2006 who is serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq -- and therefore not graduating with his classmates. Mills also noted that the Bowdoin College Dining Service -- purveyors of what The Princeton Review has called the "best college food" in America -- packed up a special student-funded "care package" this week, and sent it to Cornell du Houx in Iraq.
Senior Class President Harry Jones of New Orleans, La., addressed his classmates as a group for the final time. His talk was titled "'Why Not Me?' It is Not a Question - It is an Ethos."
"Bowdoin has thrown it all at us, and even though we have sometimes felt overwhelmed, we have excelled and marched to this point -- our graduation -- the culmination of our Bowdoin career, and the first steps into the unknown," he said. "Since we have found success at Bowdoin, in so many fields, we must proceed with confidence."
Jones recommended embracing the ethos "Why not me?" and adopting an attitude of self-entitlement.
"Graduates, I'm asking you not to be afraid of what seems like the abyss of the real world; you will succeed -- but you must own 'Why Not Me?'," he said. "This re-creation of yourself will give you immense power and allow you to take on anything."
Bowdoin awarded five honorary doctorates at the commencement: Roger Angell, senior editor at The New Yorker, Doctor of Humane Letters; Nawal M. Nour, physician and founding director of the African Women's Health Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Doctor of Science; Kiki Smith, renowned graphic artist and sculptor, Doctor of Arts; Beverly Daniel Tatum, psychologist, author, and president of Spelman College, Doctor of Humane Letters; and Donald M. Zuckert, a member of the Bowdoin Class of 1956 and trustee emeritus of the College, Doctor of Humane Letters.
Student Commencement Address Prize Winners
Alexandra Yanikoski, from Harvard, Massachusetts, is a psychology major with a minor in English. She is a scholar and an athlete: she ran cross country and indoor and outdoor track, and during her junior year, she was among the student-athletes honored by NESCAC as an All-Academic Selection for her academic and athletic achievements. She has been involved with community service, and tutored local elementary and middle school students through the America Reads and America Counts program. On campus, she has been a member of the Residential Life staff as an RA in the Brunswick Apartments.
David Duhalde-Wine was born and raised in New York, New York, where he attended the Bronx High School of Science. He is a double major at Bowdoin, earning his degree in government and East Asian studies. He studied abroad at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and stayed in Hong Kong to volunteer at the worker's rights organization, China Labour Bulletin. He followed up his work there by conducting an independent study in Chinese on how to improve the conditions of coal miners in China. At Bowdoin he was active with and served in a leadership role with the Bowdoin Democrats and the Democratic Left. He was a leader at MacMillan House, participated in the Rugby Football Club, and volunteered at the Tedford Shelter. He wrote numerous articles for the Bowdoin Orient, as well as for other campus publications, including the Disorient and Hype.
« Back | Campus News | Academic Spotlight | | Subscribe to Bowdoin News by Email