Alec Talsania ’17 Speech
Thank you Dean Gentry for the kind introduction.
Good morning. Greetings to families, faculty, staff, trustees, President Wippman honored guests, and most especially, fellow members of the
Class of 2017.
Thank you for joining us today…..
Two weeks ago, I thought I was nervous presenting my senior chemistry thesis to an audience of 50 familiar faculty members and peers, during what I assumed to be my last bit of public speaking for a while... However, I am very honored, but more nervous today, to be speaking in front of more than 5,000 as a recipient of this award.
Classmates, although we have all had different experiences at Hamilton, taken different courses, lived in different buildings, and been involved in different extracurricular activities, I can say with certainty that each of us has spent time walking down Martins way.
Today, I invite you to walk along with me on martins way one last time, to reflect on our time on College Hill and what I believe makes this college so special. Parents, you may know Martins way as where you first saw the varsity streaking team during accepted students day. For those in the audience that don’t know, Martin’s way is the red brick path that was built to connect the campus, and spans from Kirner Johnson, all the way to the Bundy-Scott Field house, where we are this morning. The path connects what was Hamilton and Kirkland, what we now know as the light and dark sides, or the north and south sides of campus. It was named to honor Martin Caravano, the 16th president of Hamilton College who presided from 1974-1988, during the period that Hamilton and Kirkland Colleges were integrated.
As we begin our walk down Martins Way, I would like to start our journey walking out of Wellin Performance Hall, where as classmates we sat together during freshman orientation.
On our way outside from Wellin Hall, we see the rock swing, which symbolizes the rocky yet somehow stable and secure journey we were about to embark on.
For many of us, the first stop on this journey was a freshman class in Kirner Johnson, or KJ. This was not the case for me though. I could jokingly convince people that I had never stepped foot in KJ as I basically lived in the Taylor Science Center and Christian Johnson, taking science and Spanish classes. That all changed this past fall, when I enjoyed a communications class… The social history of advertising, with a fabulous professor, the late Dr Tom Phelan. Dr. Tom’s class left an imprint on me of the importance of a liberal arts education. He exemplified the characteristics of all Hamilton faculty, who teach many academically diverse courses. We are fortunate to have such accessible and passionate professors to mold us into well-rounded thinkers, who are able to connect concepts and ideas across multiple disciplines.
As we leave KJ and cross the bridge… we see the spectacular new Kennedy Art Center, Beineke Village, the Sadove Student Center, and The Little Pub. These are places where the arts come to life, where student organizations find their homes, and where we can relax, eat, and drink with friends, faculty and family. The names associated with these buildings, and all the others we pass, represent the extraordinary impact of the Hamilton family. The alumni legacy of financial and volunteer support has had amazing influence on the quality of our Hamilton experience. Today, we join this tremendous alumni network and our challenge will be to impact future Hamilton students, as those who have come before, have done for us.
As we cross College Hill Road, we walk by the bronze map of the college, that we will all finally be able to walk on later today. For the non-Hamiltonians, College superstition has taught us not to walk on the college map or we are cursed not to graduate. Good news, it appears we have avoided the curse.
Next we pass Soper Hall of Commons, where we have been greeted by the employees during our many meals. They represent the importance of the entire college staff, in making sure this school run smoothly. They take pride in keeping us fed, our campus beautiful and safe, our bones warm during the long winters, and so much more…
Across from Commons we see Dunham Residence Hall, where many of our parents dropped us off and helped us move into our first college room. Let this stop serve as a reminder to us all, to be thankful for the support from our families who have made this journey possible.
Next we see Love Field, Steuben Field, Blood Fitness and Dance Center, and Sage Rink, which remind us of the role of athletics, both as athletes and fans, cheering each other on. We remember our coaches, who have pushed us in the classroom as hard as they have on the fields, believing in the true student athlete experience.
Our last stop is the Bundy Scott Field house, where we all sit today for our graduation. This gathering is a true testament and celebration of all of our hard work over the last four years.
We pass by many reminders of how special Hamilton College is, but I have yet to mention what I believe to be the most meaningful about our walk down martins way...to me, it is the friends that we have encountered on this path. We made these friends in our classrooms, studios and laboratories. In our dorms, on our sports teams, and through student organizations. These are the friends we have stayed up late with studying, conversed around the dining tables with, and have challenged and engaged us to think about new ideas and other perspectives. These friends have helped us through the tough times, celebrated the good times with us, and made us smile and laugh through it all. These are the lifelong friends who sit next to us today.
We have all traveled down Martins way together for four years, but now we will go in new directions…. As we move through life’s paths, let us carry with us Hamilton memories and the enduring friendships made during our time on the Hill. It has been an honor to walk along with you, these last four years.