Web Extra: Reflections on Graduation Day

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A personal account of Commencement from Danielle Weiner '13, a government major from Wyckoff, N.J.

It was an awkward moment when I met my new Franklin & Marshall hallmates in Brooks College House during the summer of 2009. We were asked to tell complete strangers -- and potential future best friends -- three interesting facts about ourselves.

Later that day, members of Brooks College House came together to take on the other College Houses in a variety of games collectively called "Color Wars." Little did we know that the Orientation activity would spark friendships that lasted four years, and now, we hope, a lifetime.

These memories and many others enveloped me the moment I stepped into the Alumni Sports & Fitness Center May 11 for our Commencement ceremony. As I walked past my friends and fellow classmates, I could not help but notice just how many people have shared even my smallest memories at F&M.

As members of the Class of 2013 turned to face the crowd of thousands of proud family members, faculty and friends, we collectively realized, "This is really it!"

During the ceremony, I felt as though I was watching the past four academic years pass before my eyes at once. I waved to professors and classmates in the crowd who made my time at F&M so special through creative assignments and challenging papers, countless conversations, and debates inside and outside the classroom.

Our Commencement speaker, the former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne S. Verveer, urged us to raise our voices to those who do not have the ability to do so around the world. This resonated with us, both as individuals and as a class, as we hope to make the world a better place by helping to maintain an active voice.

When it was my turn to walk across the stage and accept my diploma -- the symbol of all the work I have done -- I could not have felt more proud that I had made the decision to attend F&M. From competing as a member of the tennis team, to studying abroad in Italy the fall semester of my junior year, to the long hours I spent in the Patricia E. Harris Center for Business, Government & Public Policy for my government major, I know that my experience would not have been the same anywhere else. At F&M, I found myself exploring the Lancaster community with its vintage shops and one-of-a-kind caf├ęs (Chestnut Hill and Prince Street), working with amazing faculty and professional staff members, and most of all, exploring my passions.

If I had to give advice to incoming students at F&M, it would be just that -- to follow their passions, and to speak up about them. I'd also tell them to make sure they utilize the ever-present study spaces outside. The place where everyone was sure to find me was outside the Martin Library of the Sciences, where I could charge my computer and write a 20-page paper -- all while getting a nice Pennsylvania tan.

As President Daniel R. Porterfield reminded us at Commencement, we are "part of an idea of Franklin & Marshall College for life." I know we will always remember those words, and I know that my undergraduate years were just the beginning of a long-lasting relationship with the F&M community.


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