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  Editor's Note

Friday, 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 she'd 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 won't do 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 dimension.   

Which brings us to this issue's main feature, a profile of the College's First-Year Program. Now entering its eighth year, this innovative concept 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 academic year.

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 assisting in our effort to make a better magazine.

Jack O'Connell


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