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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University May 30, 2006 | Vol. 35 No. 36
Farewell to the Class of 2006
Universitywide Ceremony Photos

Universitywide morning ceremony followed by undergrad celebration

By Greg Rienzi, The Gazette
Photos by Will Kirk / HIPS

Few occasions can elicit joy, sadness, relief, nerves and exhilaration — and all that in just a 60-second period. Graduation is such an occasion, and a full rainbow of emotions was on display Thursday, May 25, as the university honored and said farewell to the class of 2006.

With threatening gray clouds overhead, the 130th universitywide commencement ceremony started the day off at Homewood Field, where more than 6,000 degrees and certificates were conferred by President William R. Brody on behalf of Johns Hopkins' eight academic divisions [photos in box at right].

President Brody, as is his custom, delivered the universitywide address, which focused on "the privilege of choice" in a free society. "And this process of choice is not just about choosing where we make our money," Brody said. "It is choosing our identity, about deciding who we are. And that demands deliberative thought and difficult decision making."

To help in their decision making, Brody offered the students a "map" to follow and advice on potholes to look out for. Above all, he said, pursue your dreams. Do not overvalue money or overestimate intelligence, he added. Geniuses and experts are made, he said, not born.

"Success is hard work," he said. "Geniuses get that way because they work hard at it. They demonstrate a rage to master their subject matter in no small part because they are daring to follow their dreams."

For the afternoon's undergraduate diploma ceremony, Elias Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health, provided thoughtful words for the gathered 1,100 graduating seniors [photos in box below].

Zerhouni, the former executive vice dean of the university's School of Medicine, focused his talk on what he sees as two divergent globalizations, the connected world and the disconnected. The connected, he said, is one where gaps in distance, wealth and knowledge are rapidly decreasing. But he warned that half of the world's population lives in the disconnected world, "where knowledge is decreasing, and poverty and disease are on a steady climb."

He said that these two worlds are intertwined, as was illustrated by the stark differences between the haves and have-nots in New Orleans during and after the Katrina disaster.

"And it's not just there. It's right here in East Baltimore as well," he said. "All over the country, and the world, there are huge divides in access to health care, access to good education, to food and other resources. This is something we as a society have to commit to changing, because it will affect the stability of the world you and your children will be living in for years to come."

His overriding piece of advice, then, was to "connect to the disconnected."

Both Zerhouni and Brody took time out to honor and salute the parents and families of the graduates, as did one student who lettered the words "Thanks Mom & Dad" on the top of her cap. Other cap adornments, chosen by a handful of seniors, included a monkey, a dog and one big red ribbon.

The gray clouds partly opened throughout the day, letting drops of rain fall on Homewood Field. After the ceremony, drops of tears fell as well, as graduates united with family and friends to celebrate the occasion.

Awaiting Sarah Schaeffer was a family more than 20 strong, many of whom had come down from New Haven, Conn. Sarah's father, Ted, reminisced about the time four years ago when he helped load his daughter, a Writing Seminars major, into her dorm.

"It seemed like a flash to have gotten from her childhood and her first years of school to [that] point," he said, on the verge of tears. "And now, after four years of wonderful experiences at Johns Hopkins, she is a graduate. She will attest that Johns Hopkins has been the best educational experience of her life. And the friends she has met on the way, and times she has had here, have been really very, very special for her — and special for us, because she has included us in all of this."

Undergraduate Ceremony Photos

Speaker Elias Zerhouni


Chief Marshall Charles O'Melia



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