Hamilton College honors Class of 2020 with virtual commencement


(Hamilton College)

CLINTON, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Hamilton College hosted a virtual commencement for the 497 students in the Class of 2020 on Sunday.

Speakers at the event included the following:

  • President David Wippman
  • Chairman of the Board of Trustees Stephen Sadove
  • Dean of Faculty Suzanne Keen
  • Class Speaker Ramisa Tasnim

Keen announced the class valedictorian Caroline Sullivan, who is a biochemistry major from Hopkinton, Massachusetts. Keen also announced the class salutatorian Sarah Salimi, who is a sociology major from Hartsdale, New York.

Kena Gilmour, a government major from New Paltz, New York, also received recognition for being award the James Soper Merrill Prize. This prize is awarded to the member of the graduating class “who, in character and influence, has best typified the highest ideals of the College.”

Men’s Basketball Coach Adam Stockwell called Gilmour “one of the most outstanding people I have met in my life.”

In my nearly 25 years of coaching at the college level, I have never met a student-athlete who epitomizes the Division III scholar-athlete vision better than Kena Gilmour.

Men’s Basketball Coach Adam Stockwell

Gilmour was selected by the faculty and presented with a gold watch.

Class Speaker Tasnim was chosen by the senior class and looked back to the Class of 2020’s first-year orientation and said she initially doubted “five days together would cause such a difference to my college career.”

That is the beauty of uncertainty. And that is the result of a willingness to try new and unfamiliar things. And, most importantly, that is what Hamilton provided us. A chance. An opportunity. An experience… Some of us have traveled across the world, some of us across the country. Some of us only live an hour away. Some of us come from large families. Some of us were raised in a single-parent household. For all of us, coming to college in Clinton, New York, meant not just receiving a stellar education, but also finding connections.

Class Speaker Ramisa Tasnim

To keep up with their tradition, the Bagpipes of the Mohawk Valley Frasers gave a prelude and postlude to the ceremony. Also, seniors from the College Choir sang Carissima, Hamilton’s alma mater.

For over two centuries, the College has flourished and grown, finding its way past wars and conflicts, depressions and recessions, epidemics and pandemics. In every generation there have been defining moments. For my generation, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement and 9/11 helped shape our view of the world and our place in it. We don’t get to choose these defining moments. They choose us. We may not get to choose our defining moments, but we do get to choose how we respond.  Adversity brings with it disappointment, anxiety, and loss. But it also brings opportunity, to learn, to grow, and to find one’s own inner strength.

President David Wippman

Wippman urged the class to “learn from that experience, draw strength from it, and use it to help you overcome the obstacles you will surely encounter in the future.”

The world has changed, in ways we never imagined. Now more than ever the world needs your strength, your determination, your talent, and your resiliency – to solve the problems we face, to lead the change we require, and to navigate an uncertain future with grit and determination – characteristics that I believe will come to define your class and your generation.

President Dave Wippman

According to officials with the college, discussions are underway about hosting an in-person gathering on campus at a later date.

If you would like to view the virtual commencement, please click here.

If you would like to watch the math professors singing for the graduates, click here.

To watch undergraduate musicians play Pomp & Circumstance for graduates, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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