As they gathered to celebrate at the Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, Gallatin School of Individualized Study graduates were reminded of the global issues that await them after graduation. From environmental disasters in Asia to the racial tensions in the United States, dean Susanne Wofford called attention to the social, political and environmental difficulties that the graduates must inevitably face.
“As I see it, one does not choose one’s historical moment,” Wofford said. “History thrusts itself upon you. You didn’t want to be the class that was graduating in the midst of these terror scenes of civic violence, but you are that class. The question is, how will you respond now that it’s your turn?”
Professor Ulrich Baer echoed Wofford’s sentiments and encouraged the graduates to be worldly and think about the world in the Gallatin way, or as “something that is co-created with others.”
Student speaker Omar Alsayyed, wearing a red nose, spoke about the fear of “diving headfirst into the chaotic world” outside of Gallatin. However, he expressed hope that graduates will be able to find what they are looking for.
Faculty speaker Michael Dinwiddie delivered his speech in rhyme. While he acknowledged that there is work to do, Dinwiddie said that by trusting the lessons that they have learned, students are more than ready to take control of their individual paths.
“Too many holes in the fabric of our nation,” Dinwiddie said. “It is up to you and me to make the reparations.”
In her closing remarks, Wofford challenged the graduates to respond to their historical moment “in their very best form.” She assured the class of 2015 that through their energy, creativity and youthful idealism, they possess the intellectual capability and creative power to take on the world.