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Hampshire’s 300 graduates urged to confront challenges

  • Hampshire College Professor of Sociology Margaret Cerullo, left, holds a music device while Student Moderato Aaron Richmond-Havel 09F performs Saturday at the 2013 graduation in Amherst. Richmond-Havel's drag persona is Penelope Musky-Sausage.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Hampshire College Professor of Sociology Margaret Cerullo, left, holds a music device while Student Moderato Aaron Richmond-Havel 09F performs Saturday at the 2013 graduation in Amherst. Richmond-Havel's drag persona is Penelope Musky-Sausage.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hampshire College student Esther Dane celebrates during the graduation ceremony Saturday in Amherst. Dane's Division III, Portraits of Wellness, combines art with science research. <br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Hampshire College student Esther Dane celebrates during the graduation ceremony Saturday in Amherst. Dane's Division III, Portraits of Wellness, combines art with science research.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hampshire College student Augusta Sitney celebrates during the graduation ceremony Saturday in Amherst. Sitney focused her studies on Metal Sculpture, Music, Poetry and Philosophy of Art.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Hampshire College student Augusta Sitney celebrates during the graduation ceremony Saturday in Amherst. Sitney focused her studies on Metal Sculpture, Music, Poetry and Philosophy of Art.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hampshire College President Jonathan Lash speaks Saturday during the 2013 commencement in Amherst.<br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Hampshire College President Jonathan Lash speaks Saturday during the 2013 commencement in Amherst.
    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hampshire College students celebrate Saturday during the class of 2013 graduation ceremony in Amherst.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Hampshire College students celebrate Saturday during the class of 2013 graduation ceremony in Amherst.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Amy Goodman, investigative journalist, author and host of the global news hour, Democracy Now, speaks Saturday at the 2013 Hampshire College graduation in Amherst.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Amy Goodman, investigative journalist, author and host of the global news hour, Democracy Now, speaks Saturday at the 2013 Hampshire College graduation in Amherst.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hampshire College Professor of Sociology Margaret Cerullo, left, holds a music device while Student Moderato Aaron Richmond-Havel 09F performs Saturday at the 2013 graduation in Amherst. Richmond-Havel's drag persona is Penelope Musky-Sausage.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Hampshire College student Esther Dane celebrates during the graduation ceremony Saturday in Amherst. Dane's Division III, Portraits of Wellness, combines art with science research. <br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Hampshire College student Augusta Sitney celebrates during the graduation ceremony Saturday in Amherst. Sitney focused her studies on Metal Sculpture, Music, Poetry and Philosophy of Art.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Hampshire College President Jonathan Lash speaks Saturday during the 2013 commencement in Amherst.<br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Hampshire College students celebrate Saturday during the class of 2013 graduation ceremony in Amherst.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Amy Goodman, investigative journalist, author and host of the global news hour, Democracy Now, speaks Saturday at the 2013 Hampshire College graduation in Amherst.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

AMHERST — Student moderator Aaron Richmond-Havel broke into dance on the stage, and the crowd of more than 2,500 people cheered, whistled, and screamed for the approximately 300 graduates awarded bachelor’s degrees Saturday during the 43rd spring commencement at Hampshire College.

President Jonathan Lash said he could sense the excitement in the air as early as last week when he was awakened at 3 a.m. in his Middle Street home by a student ringing the bell on campus that marks the passing of the college’s Division III senior project.

“It made me chuckle,” Lash told the graduates. “Such a very sweet sound that brightens every Hampshire spring. It affirms the near miraculous courage, creativity, and independence with which you have channeled your passion, harnessed your curiosity, and set off independently to explore something you care about.”

The Division III projects of the graduating class ranged from “Evolution in Invasion Ecology” to “The Tomorrow Project: Collaborative Theatre and Adaptation” to “Unknown Regions: Geography’s Radical Potential.”

Lash and other speakers reminded the graduates of the problems and challenges waiting for them as they leave Hampshire. He pointed out that the graduating class entered college as the recession began, and leaves as the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere passes a level not seen in three million years.

“Yup, plenty for you to deal with,” Lash said. “Change is what you can count on — change as a necessity and a moral obligation in a rapidly changing world.”

Keynote speaker Amy Goodman, investigative journalist, author, and host of the global news hour “Democracy Now!”, agreed with Lash that she has confidence in the future generation to combat the greatest issues facing the world. Goodman spoke of the power of information and the media as a tool for peace.

When the East Timorese voted for independence in 1999 after a quarter-century of Indonesian occupation, one person present to cover their stories she said, was Hampshire graduate Sander Thoenes, Goodman said. Thoenes was killed covering the story on September 21, 1999.

“We have a lesson to learn from the people of East Timor – whether we want to represent the sword or the shield. Democracy now!” Goodman said, concluding her speech.

Faculty speaker Margaret Cerullo, professor of sociology, called for an end of measuring moral worth by the ability to provide for yourself rather than your ability to provide for the needs of others.

Cerullo said that while the popular vision of the graduating class is that it is made up of “300 students with 300 different majors,” the real secret to Hampshire is the collaboration that exists in the community.

Student speaker Zilong Wang took a much lighter approach to his address, congratulating his fellow students, who he said survived 1½ student governments, four chiefs of police, three college presidents, hurricanes, “apocalypses” and Mitt Romney.

Wang poked fun at the untraditional college and its many stereotypes: “Life, just like Hampshire courses, does not end in grades, but in a narrative evaluation – how else would you describe a eulogy?”

The ceremony also celebrated two of the college’s founders, Charles R. Longsworth and Polly Ormsby Longsworth, who were awarded honorary degrees.

Sigmund Roos, chairman of the board of trustees related how the Longsworths literally set out in a snowstorm in February 1965 to look for land on which to build Hampshire College.

“Chuck, you were Hampshire College’s first employee and second president,” Roos said. “Polly, you have been a full partner in every aspect of this grand endeavor.

“Together, in the crucial early days, you were instrumental in capturing the public imagination and attracting bold and creative people from around the country to become Hampshire’s first faculty, students, staff, and trustees,” Roos added.

During his opening remarks, Roos also addressed the graduating class. “It is the job, yes the job, of a Hampshire graduate to earn a living, but as importantly, it is the job of a Hampshire graduate to become engaged in society, to challenge, and to institute change for the betterment of all,” he said.

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