Story posted May 23, 2008
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Bowdoin College held its 2008 Baccalaureate ceremony Friday, May 23, marking the official close of the academic year and celebrating the College's 203rd Commencement (to be held Saturday, May 24).
Bowdoin President Barry Mills presided over the ceremony.
In his welcoming remarks to the Class of 2008, Mills spoke of what he called "the exceptionalism of Bowdoin."
"Founded in 1794, our College has never waivered in providing strong leadership in higher education while also educating leaders for our country and the world," said Mills. "It is our responsibility to remain true to that legacy."
Mills spoke of the sense of pride at Bowdoin — in what the College is and what it stands for. "It is one aspect of our exceptionalism — an exceptionalism built from a strong, clear, and enduring sense of purpose and mission, and an understanding that our commitment to the liberal arts model and to the Common Good sets us apart."
Mills spoke of embracing change in order to endure and prosper and cited the College's new financial aid policy replacing the loan component of financial aid with Bowdoin grants, for current students beginning in the 2009-2009 academic year. "At Bowdoin over the recent past we have recommitted ourselves to providing opportunity for all who should be at Bowdoin without regard to financial means," he said.
"This is true for low-income students from South Portland or New York City and middle class students from California and Texas. We seek to be a college that represents America and the world, and providing access and financial support to these students is central to our mission and simply our responsibility."
In speaking of change Mills also mentioned the construction of the new Fitness, Health and Wellness Center — an addition to the Morrell Gym complex.
Mills said that although the graduating seniors may not yet know what they'll be doing next year or even next month, "rest assured that in earning a Bowdoin degree you are well prepared for whatever comes next, and for whatever comes after that."
Mills thanked faculty and staff for their dedication and wished the Class of 2008 "success and a life of learning and deeds well done."
Voices from Bowdoin's Past
Dean of Student Affairs Timothy W. Foster delivered "Voices from Bowdoin's Past," a Bowdoin Baccalaureate tradition. The readings came from a letter written by Jerre Abbott, of the Class of 1920, upon his graduation.
I suppose that, so far as the efforts of Bowdoin College are concerned, I am now an educated man, so to speak; although I must confess that the process did not finish with an apparent bang when I took my last exam on Saturday. In fact, I had been so busy that I hardly realized the all-important event until it was well over.
As I look back over the four years, I am reminded very keenly how fortunate I have been..."
Foster shared the zigzag course Abbott's life took, returning to Bowdoin to teach physics; then studying art and the history of art in France and Russia, and at Princeton and Harvard; helping to establish the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and later returning to his family home in Dexter, Maine, to run the family business.
Foster reminded students to thank those who made Bowdoin and the future possible for them, as Abbott himself had done 88 years ago.
Dad, I realize that I have you and mother to thank for all this happiness, which has made my life so full of enjoyment here at Bowdoin. In a small way I have tried to fulfill my part of the obligation. Whether I have succeeded, only...time will tell. If life were only a moving picture, we could speed up the film a bit and solve the problem.
Lots of love to you both,
DeAlva Stanwood Alexander First Prize Winner Daniel Farrell Brady '08
Graduating senior Daniel Farrell Brady gave a speech titled "Forever Finding Home," in which he spoke of the opportunities that abound when one chooses an unfamiliar path, but said one need not leave home to know the fear and joy of new possibility.
"In that sense, this moment in our lives need not be unparalleled," said Brady. "We need not forget what if feels like to push ourselves to abandon what is comfortable and to search for something that is boldly new. When the comfort of the moral standard is inadequate, we must dare to search for a greater moral imperative. When the possibility of discovery is bounded by conventional thinking, we must dare to abandon it and search for a greater perspective. When we know our potential to change the world for the better is being arrested by the constraints of the status quo, we must reject it and search for a greater standard."
Quoting from "The Offer of the College," Brady said the line, "To be at home in all lands and all ages," means to him, "to learn to live a life where we are forever expanding the bounds of what we call home; a life where we never forget the thrill and the trepidation of embarking on something new. And when the new becomes old, when foreign territory becomes home, we look up to a new horizon and take a step into a new ocean of possibility."
Brady spoke of the choices to be encountered. "I urge you, choose possibility. Choose service. Choose kindness. Choose tolerance. Choose joy. We are all smart, good people, but that does not mean that the correct choices will be made automatically. We need to push ourselves to be a force for good in this world."
Keynote Address: Honorand and New York Times Science Writer Gina Kolata
Gina Kolata, one of the five who will receive honorary degrees at Saturday's commencement, delivered the keynote address, in which she shared the lesson of keeping an open mind about one's career and its trajectory.
"The day I graduated from college, the University of Maryland, I knew exactly what I was going to do," said Kolata, as she shared with the audience a plan that included going to graduate school, getting a Ph.D. in molecular biology, getting tenure and running a lab.
"Was I wrong."
Kolata spoke of paying attention to her likes and aptitudes, as she tried to find her calling. She got her foot in the door at Science magazine — not as a writer, but still she wrote, on her own time and without pay, submitting pieces to the news editors until they made her a full-time writer.
When it was time to make a move, she set her sights on The New York Times. Kolata scored an interview — and then she waited. "Three years went by," she recalled. "Then, one day, the phone rang. It was the science editor at the Times. 'Remember me?' he said. 'I have a job.' I was totally floored."
In addition to keeping an open mind, Kolata said you can make opportunities even when they don't present themselves. "You may have to work for free, like I did, you may have to take a lot of initiative, but there are opportunities out there," she said. "You may have to work very hard when you get an opportunity — teaching yourself, reading about your profession, becoming obsessed with doing it right.
"If you are lucky, as I am, you will find a career that absolutely suits you. And then work will be a joy, added to friends and family and to volunteer work and other pleasures that can make for a very satisfying life. I know you can do it. The great journey is still ahead of you."
Music for the Baccalaureate ceremony was provided by pianist Andrea Gwyneth Lee Printy '08, who performed the prelude of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck's "Fantasia Chromatica." Printy accompanied soloists Sophie Cartwright Springer '11 and Matthew Stanley Wang '08 and the audience for "America the Beautiful." Pianist Nicholas Anthony Kasprak '08 performed the postlude, Ludwig van Beethoven's "Mit Lebhaftigkeit und durchaus mit Empfindung und Ausdruck," from Piano Sonata No. 27 in E Minor, op. 90. Kasprak accompanied soloists Kate Lauren Lebeaux '08 and Jessie Marie Ferguson '08 for the interlude, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Ah guarda sorella" from Cosi fan tutte, and was joined by Springer, Wang and the audience for "Raise Songs to Bowdoin."
Daniel Farrell Brady '08 of San Carlos, Calif., is graduating with a double major in government and religion, and a minor in theater. Although the degree alone says that Brady is a student with varied interests, there's more: Brady has been a member of Bowdoin's improvisational comedy group, The Improvabilities, all four of his years here, and he has directed the group since his sophomore year. This semester, the group did what Dan calls their "first piece of legitimate theater," a one-act farce called "Black Comedy," which he produced and directed.
Brady has also been active in the theater department, working as a part of the 'workstudy' crew in many productions. This spring, he came out from behind the scenes to play the role of the Sheriff in "Babes in Arms." He is also a student member of the recording committee, a leader of the Religion Forum and a member of the newly reconstituted Peucinian Society.
In the fall of his junior year, Brady participated in the Intercollegiate Sri Lanka Education (ISLE) program. He describes those five months as "the most transformative experience" of his Bowdoin career. He credits that time with sparking his interest in civil conflict, particularly in Buddhist countries, and with leading him to an internship at the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon, Burma, last summer. His focus in the study of religion has been eastern religion, with a particular interest in how Buddhism functions when it is the dominant religion in a political system. He is deferring an offer to join the Teach for America corps in order to return to Sri Lanka for a year to work as the Program Assistant for the ISLE program and says that his long-term plans may take him various routes — to the US Foreign Service, to academia or to other work in international relations.
Gina Kolata has reported on science news and issues for The New York Times since 1987. In her news articles and books she makes accessible to a wide audience the results of scientific research and the social, political, economic and environmental issues raised by scientific inquiry. Her books include Clone: The Road to Dolly, and the Path Ahead (1997) and Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss — and the Myths and Realities of Dieting (2007). A native of Baltimore, Md., she holds a bachelor's degree in microbiology and a master's degree in applied mathematics from the University of Maryland.