Ninety-four students were officially recognized Thursday afternoon as mid-year graduates of Harvard College at the Graduate Recognition Ceremony in the Radcliffe Gymnasium. The event, hosted by the Senior Class Committee, featured a series of speeches that called for innovation, unconventionality, and responsibility in the world beyond Harvard.
Setting the thematic tone for the event, Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds cited the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost and praised the graduates for taking the “road less traveled.” She celebrated previous Harvard students Mark E. Zuckerberg and Matt Damon for “forging their own paths by leaving university before they finished,” and advocated for the outgoing group to “innovate, make discoveries, shape fields, and forge new ideas of success.”
History professor James T. Kloppenberg called on the students to thank and reach out to anyone responsible for their Harvard experience. Kloppenberg said that Harvard students would face the struggle of finding “a life of meaning, value, and purpose” but that he hoped Harvard’s liberal arts education could help bring them closer to that discovery.
“I hope your Harvard education will help you to solve those Tolstoy questions—what shall we do and how shall we live?” Kloppenberg said.
Andrew Berry, lecturer in organismic and evolutionary biology, then described the graduates as “‘the road less traveled’ people” and suggested that they could learn from the choices of renowned naturalist Charles Darwin. Berry recommended that graduates stay in touch with Harvard mentors, faculty, and professors—just as Darwin did with his contemporaries.
“The most important part of Harvard is not p-sets but the people you hang out with. Networks were a powerful driving force for Darwin,” he said. “Every enterprise is a collaborative enterprise and you should remember that.”
Yi Han ’12 concluded the event with a speech about a contemporary world “that demands leaders who can maintain autonomy and visionaries who are not afraid to be the minority.” He encouraged his peers to go and “move some mountains.”
Many of the graduates attended a reception in the gymnasium after the speeches.
“It’s nice seeing people that really care about you and makes you value your time at Harvard,” said Christopher K. Lee ’12.
Lee took time off to do anthropology research on food and culture in Hong Kong—an experience funded by Harvard.
“I would not trade that experience with anything else,” he said.