May 10, 2010
Hideko Tamura Snider, a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing in 1945 and a graduate of The College of Wooster in 1956, spoke about the importance of perseverance at Wooster's 140th commencement ceremony on May 10.
View the 2010 Commencement Photo Gallery and Highlights Video.
WOOSTER, Ohio - As a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing in 1945, Hideko Tamura Snider knows all too well the importance of perseverance. A 1956 College of Wooster graduate, Snider returned to her alma mater on Monday (May 10) to share her story and encourage graduating seniors to "never give up" during remarks at the 140th commencement on a bright but chilly morning in the Oak Grove.
"No matter how desperate the challenges you face, try to survive - physically, mentally, and emotionally," said Snider, author of One Sunny Day: A Child's Memories of Hiroshima and one of three honorary degree recipients who spoke at the ceremony. "Seek the meaning and truth in what confronts you. Value the precious gift of life. Treasure it, care for it, and preserve it for future generations."
Snider was joined by fellow authors Terry Tempest Williams, who was recognized in absentia, and Ellen Lewin. Williams, whose letter to the Class of 2010 was read by Dan Bourne, professor of English at Wooster, urged graduates to "follow your heart...it will not betray you. It holds its own council and carries its own intelligence. You may get hurt. You may feel alone, at times, but the heart is where we embrace our questions. In the long run, if you trust your heart, it will serve you with intuition, instinct, and integrity." She also stressed the importance of passion, perseverance, and commitment as well as our responsibility to future generations, noting that their eyes "are looking back at us and praying that we may see beyond our own time." Lewin chose a similar theme, telling students that "we are all enjoined to make things better...without the promise of personal gain." She encouraged graduates to "use the skills you developed at Wooster to inform, question, and honor the 'impossible spaces' you encounter in life, and by doing so, help to repair a world that is broken."
The ceremony began with a few words of welcome by Wooster President Grant Cornwell and an invocation by Rev. David Comstock, whose sons Jonah and Nathan were among the graduates. President Grant Cornwell then followed by assuring graduates that "you could not have a better preparation than your Wooster education for the changing world you will lead." He challenged them to "go forth into a world that is being remade," adding, "this is an exceptionally exciting time to be 21 and a graduate of The College of Wooster. A new paradigm is taking shape in the global economy. You will make your way in a world unfamiliar to your parents. It will be your era, and it is filled with opportunities for leadership, innovation, and important work to be done.
"Because of your education you have developed a set of moral and intellectual qualities that will be your foundation for a lifetime of asking important questions, researching complex issues, solving problems with the gift of having independent minds and the capacity to work together with others towards common ends," added Cornwell. "All of these qualities, made manifest through the completion of your Independent Study Project, distinguish you from your national and global peers. In just moments you will be a graduate of The College of Wooster...and that, seniors, is a credential of substance."
Speaking for the Class of 2010 were fellow graduates Elizabeth Maffetone and Ryan Story. "We can never escape the fact that our years at Wooster have changed us and shaped us," said Maffetone, an English major and a women's studies minor from East Setauket, N.Y. "I look at us now and think how far we've come in four short years. We're no longer terrified first years...we're now terrified seniors, but we know ourselves and what we are capable of. Wooster has become a part of us - a part of who we are and who we will become." Story, a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Pittsburgh, said, "This day has been waiting for us for four years, and it is finally here. Senior I.S. gave us a chance to follow our passions, and having a passion makes life more satisfying and enjoyable. If we can walk away from campus today with a drive to follow our passions and a desire to put our liberal arts education to good use, I.S. will have been a success." In addition to the students, Susanne Johnston Leggett, a 1967 Wooster graduate and president of the alumni association, spoke about the transition for student to alumnus.
Several major award winners were recognized during the ceremony, including Emily Barth and Story, who received the Dan Lockhart Outstanding Senior Award in recognition of their high academic achievement, participation in extra curricular activities, and demonstrated leadership in campus affairs. In addition, the William A. Galpin Awards, which are presented to the two men and two women who excel academically and demonstrate social and religious leadership, went to Chantal Koechli, Justin Keener, Alexa Roggenkamp, and Aneeb Sharif. Also, the Jonas O. Notestein Prize, which goes to the students with the highest academic standing in the class, went to Barth and Maffetone as well as Lindsay Brainard and Elana Stennett.
The Rev. James Lemler, whose daughter, Anna, was among the graduates, closed the ceremony with a benediction that touched on the importance of one's spirituality "as we prepare to take the next steps in life" and affirmed that God is with us every step of the way.
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