Finals are over, caps and gowns await, and the campus is buzzing in anticipation of Clark’s 113th Commencement on May 21. This in-between time, also known as Senior Week, offers an opportunity for the Clark community to reflect on the Class of 2017’s past four years and celebrate these soon-to-be alumni.
The Senior Leadership Committee, along with many Clark departments and offices, schedules fun events on and off campus. One tradition is the Senior Brunch, where faculty, staff and administrators volunteer to serve as wait staff. The casual and nostalgic event offers a chance for graduating Clarkies to meet up for one last time in the all-too-familiar dining hall where many got to know each other as first-year students.
A new event served as the kick-off to Senior Week this year. Tim St. John, director of student leadership and programming, on behalf of the Division of Student Affairs, invited the Class of 2017 to a Senior Toast and Awards event on May 12 in Tilton Hall. The event began with a reception and light refreshment followed by a formal program including a champagne toast, guest alumni and senior speakers, and individual awards and recognition.
Dean of Students Francy Magee led a toast and welcomed the students as “alumni now” as the crowd in Tilton Hall raised glasses of champagne.
Alumni speaker Leo Velasquez ’86 talked about his years as an undergraduate and how he transitioned to life after Clark. “Clark does make you work; it does make you earn your degree. So, you should be very proud.”
“Your relationship is going to change with Clark University,” Velasquez continued. “I often tell people I have three homes: I have my family’s home, my parents’ and I have Clark. Clark will change, sidewalks change, buildings go up, buildings come down, but this is this is still your University. Your relationship will change, but you will still be important to Clark.”
Invited senior speaker Eriberto Mora gave a heartfelt and often humorous talk to his classmates. He began by relating his childhood journey with his family from Mexico “toward the land of possibilities.” He looked back at his early failings and obstacles, as well as the fun and the food. In closing, he asked his peers to “make sure that no matter what path you take that you go out there to the word and be the Clarkie that does good, the Clarkie that is kind and makes someone smile. But most importantly, be the Clarkie that follows your dreams – to remember what privileges you were born with and where you are now.”
Clark’s Senior Week traditions make for a pleasant, somewhat bittersweet, transition to the pomp and circumstance of Commencement – and the changes that lie ahead for the graduates.
“It is a surreal week,” Velasquez acknowledged. “And before you know it, you’ll be under the tent in your cap and gown wondering, ‘Wow! How did I get here?’ ”
These senior awards were announced at the event: