Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Goodbye, hello

I’ve been thinking a lot about endings and beginnings over the past few months in working on the fall issue of the magazine. With Commencement being the ultimate symbol of both, I can’t help it.

I don’t know how parents, faculty members and staff members watch this ceremony over and over again. The experience is such an emotion-filled mix of joy and sadness—joy for the students you’ve watched bloom and accomplish so much over the past four years, sadness about the fact that they now have come to the end of their journey at Wheaton and are off to their next beginning, the next chapter in their lives. My son just turned 13 this summer, but I’m already happy/sad that one day I’ll be watching him do this.

I interacted regularly with several of the 2012 graduating students over the past four years, offering advice, listening to hopes, dreams and doubts. So I was more acutely aware than ever of their absence this summer after Commencement as I walked the empty campus. 

But one recent morning I was also reminded that those empty spaces are quickly filled with new hopes, dreams and doubts. A young woman participating in CORE, Wheaton’s early orientation program, stood on the sidewalk outside of Knapton Hall, where several diverging paths meet. In her hand she held a folder and sheets of paper that she kept flipping through.

“Are you lost?” I asked. “Are you looking for something?”

“Yes,” she said, with a slight breath of relief at being offered help. “I’m looking for the library.”

Turning, I pointed directly across the Dimple, and said, “straight ahead.”

“Thank you so much,” she said, smiling in the way only a brand-new freshman can.

“Welcome to Wheaton, congratulations,” I told her. “See you around.”

New joy.

This issue of the Quarterly is filled with joy, optimism and new beginnings—two pages of award-winning graduates; a story about our “new” athletics director John Sutyak ’00; a feature about the latest student-faculty research focusing on animal behavior modification; and plenty of Commencement photos.

To start things off, here are my personal highlights from Commencement:

  • Spending time with members of the Class of 1957 at Reunion during “An Hour with the Editor.”
  • Watching families, some of them very large, beaming at their graduates.
  • Seeing all of the alums back on campus for Reunion maintaining their connections, including Roxanna “Roxy” Azari ’10, one of my favorites since she first impressed me with her poetic skills at a Wheaton luncheon years ago. Check out her personal reflection on her year as a Watson Fellow on page 18.
  • Admiring the faculty members, who work so hard every year, strut their fancy fashions in the procession.
  • Basking in the glow of full-on sunshine, weather-worry-free.
  • Rushing back to the office with the communications staff to quickly post Commencement photos and information on the web, because our wonderful boss is so eager to share the joy of the day that our office becomes an on-deadline newsroom. (OK, this one is not exactly a highlight. Wait. We do get lots of pizza when the work is done, so, OK, highlight.)

Congratulations, Class of 2012. Welcome, Class of 2016.