“Creating an authentic identity, or finding out who you are, involves experimentation and role playing and even outright fraud. It involves pretending to be smarter and more secure and worldly than you are in the hope that you will eventually grow into the part.
“But in my experience self-invention is only half of the goal of a fulfilling, meaningful life. The other half is to discover a community, to find your common humanity with others.”
—Jay McInerney ’76, from his address “Fresh Starts, False Steps: Faking Your Way to Your Authentic Destiny.”
Despite the rain—and rain it did Sunday, June 6—525 seniors and 44 graduate students accepted their diplomas at Williams 221st Commencement. At the indoor ceremony, held in Chapman Rink, 10 students graduated summa cum laude, 72 magna cum laude and 107 cum laude. There were 66 members of Phi Beta Kappa and 49 of Sigma Xi. Highest departmental honors went to 49 seniors, honors to 107.
Honorary degree recipients were G. Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; Martha M. Coakley ’75, Massachusetts Attorney General; Stephanie D. Wilson, astronaut; Jay McInerney ’76, author; and Adam F. Falk, 17th president of Williams.
The celebrants listened to addresses from seniors Edward R. Mazurek, Ralph E. Morrison and Zachary Clair Miller before principal speaker Jay McInerney.
Thus launched, their spirits undampened, the graduates and their admirers went out into the rain once more.
“Two women were walking on a beach littered with starfish. One of the women would stop now and then and toss a starfish back into the ocean.“Her companion asked her why; with so many thousands, she couldn’t possibly make a difference. The woman stopped, picked up a fish, tossed it far back into the waters, and said, ‘I made a difference for that one.’“So we cannot do everything, but we can do something. And we can do it very well.”—Martha Coakley ’75, from her Baccalaureate address “Mountains Beyond Purple Mountains”
To listen to any or all of the commencement speeches, click here