May 22, 2:45 p.m.
To the Reader:
Down the hall from my office there
is a line of dazed graduates turning in their caps and gowns
and attempting to balance armfuls of gifts, cards, books,
pen sets, flowers, and newly minted diplomas. Most of their
faces are flushed, only partly because the weather has cooperated
and the sun has been shining on Fitton Field since dawn.
The Kodak, Polaroid, and Fuji companies all did well today. Everywhere on campus,
parents could be seen bookending their children, arms draped over shoulders
as obliging bystanders snapped photos. Everyone is intent on capturing this
moment, this culmination of four years of study, intense friendship, tuition
bills, and growth.
Commencement Day brings a mix of emotions. This morning I witnessed graduates
embracing, laughing, looking nervous, shedding tears. Inevitably, I thought
back to my own graduation in '81 when the skies opened and the rain pushed
the ceremonies into the Hart Center. I have vivid memories of standing in the
hockey rink as administrators attempted to form us into orderly lines. I recall
Helen Hayes being so impressed by Jim O'Hara's valedictory speech that she
felt there was little she could add. And I have an uncomfortable recollection
of looking from face to face and thinking, it turns out correctly, that I might
never see some of these people again.
That may, in fact, be the hardest part of this day. The
college experience encompasses a time of growth unlike any
that came before or likely will follow.
In four years, which, in retrospect, move at a shockingly accelerated
pace, the student becomes part of a community in ways that may not be understood
for years to come. And though that community endures beyond commencement, its
presence will never be felt quite as intensely.
This year's speaker, Maria Shriver, charmed the crowd with a wonderful
speech - funny,
thoughtful, candid, and wise. Shriver detailed 10 things she wished
been told at her own graduation. When she came to item four - Your
Behavior Has Consequences - most of the crowd, particularly the graduates,
seemed to pay close attention. "You are not a victim," Shriver said. "The
single most determining factor in your life is you. And it's never
too early to get your ethical act together. Be strong about what you
believe in. Be firm about
who you really are, the pluses and minuses. Know what you will and
to get ahead."
Shriver illustrated her message with an example, from her own life, of a time
when corporate bosses leaned on her to behave in ways she judged less than
ethical. She was forced to risk her career in order to heed her conscience.
The parable seemed appropriate not only to the day but also to the place, a
college whose culture is based on an intellectual pursuit grounded in an ethical
Which brings us to this issue's main feature, a profile of the
First-Year Program. Now entering its eighth year, this innovative
is gaining popularity at the national level. Developed around
the question "How,
then, shall we live?" the program has had great success in integrating
student life in and outside the classroom.
The empty campus on Friday night of Commencement unofficially
marked the start of the summer. To help you enjoy the season,
we've asked Ken Scott '67,
campus computer wizard and open road enthusiast, to make some
suggestions for scenic
road trips. And if you're looking for recommendations for some
rewarding beach reading, turn to Helen Whall's list of titles
that the First-Year Program will be tackling in the coming
Finally, you'll find a survey we've
created to get a better idea of what you'd like to see in Holy
Cross Magazine. We
ask that you take a moment to fill it out and return it to
the Office of Public
Affairs. Readers with Internet access can fill out the survey
directly on the website and e-mail it to us. Thank you for
our effort to
a better magazine.