Convocation and Lessons Learned

Alena Maiolo, Maroon-News Staff

A bright light flashed in front of my eyes as I stood with my link group, on the Academic Quad. My Link had organized a photo shoot for us before Convocation. We went for the classic photo op spots on campus – in front of the chapel, on Persson steps and of course stopping in front of Willow Path. We descended the hill to the enormous tent on Whitnall field where we would eat our last meal together.

After a trip to the buffet, we discussed memories from Orientation Week – meeting at #thespot, Simon’s optical illusion shirt with Bart Simpson, the varying perspectives about different orientation sessions and the family stories we shared during our first class meeting. As my FSEM sat, chatted and laughed together, it felt like a small family.  Minutes later, my Link left us to put on his robe and join his fellow Konosioni members. Without him, our group was like a herd of sheep missing its shepherd. One by one, Link groups were called to begin climbing the hill. 

Wiping the sweat away and attempting to control our heavy breathing, my group joined the rest of the Class of 2021 in the Academic Quad.  I took a moment to look out into the distance, noting all the students with whom I would be spending the next four years of my life. I smiled. As dusk fell upon us, just under 800 of people filed into the chapel, one by one, facing the true beginning of our careers here at Colgate. 

When I walked into the chapel, there were no seats left. The faculty, however, kindly gave up their seats in the front row for the students and stood for the entire ceremony. Taking my seat in the front row, a sense of intimidation mounted knowing I was in full view of my entire graduating class. Although many people spoke that night, I distinctly remember the words of Professor Garland – after his speech I am committed to finding a way to take Legacies of the Ancient World with him. Making use of literary and philosophical references, he drilled into my mind that my time at Colgate is limited, and I must make the most of it. 

More importantly, he encouraged the first-years to be critical of all ideas and points of view, including their own. Colgate is a place where a person must learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, questioning everything around them. By the end of the process, he or she will be stronger than when they began. At this moment in Professor Garland’s speech, I drew a connection to Maura Cullen’s presentation and thought back to one of the first days of orientation. Cullen reminded us that nothing is ever certain; we might not be here tomorrow. Orientation showed me that Colgate is a place where students can truly make the most of their days and – to use one of my favorite Latin phrases – carpe diem

After the convocation blessing, my fellow Linksters and I stumbled through the singing of the alma mater – a song connecting the Class of 2021 to the rest of the Colgate community. As I exited the chapel, I left orientation behind me, ready to dive into my Colgate experience.

Contact Alena Maiolo at [email protected]