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Many Voices, Many Countries

A mélange of international languages will greet everyone who walks into the Whitaker Campus Center this week and next. Young students from more than 20 countries around the world have gathered for the annual UNESCO Center for Peace International Model UN Conference. During their two-week stay, students will participate in workshops that will provide them with real-world experiences in team building, cultural diversity and conflict resolution; take field trips to Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City and Ellis and Liberty islands; and listen to guest speakers who will talk about a variety of global topics.

Part of their experience will be to research and participate in a United Nations simulation and serve as representatives of some of the countries that make up the UN. They will research, debate and write resolutions on issues that affect people throughout the world.

What an amazing opportunity for these students. Hood College is honored to host such a worthwhile endeavor.

Pictured: Pavani Vyncke from Belgium and Ambika Keveley from France.

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Take Us Out to the Ball Games!

It won’t be long before Blazer fans will be rooting for Hood’s newest varsity team—baseball!

Hood College President Ron Volpe announced today that the College is preparing to field its first ever baseball team, which will bring the total number of varsity athletic team offerings at Hood to 21.

President Volpe and athletic director Tom Dickman enthusiastically rolled out the new venture to a crowd of nearly 50 local leaders, College administrators and staff and media representatives during a special luncheon in the campus athletic center. Supporters dined on traditional ballpark fare—hot dogs, burgers, cheese fries, popcorn, peanuts, soft pretzels and Cracker Jacks.

Dickman said he anticipates that the first games will take place during a nontraditional fall 2014 season and continue with an NCAA Division III varsity schedule in spring 2015.

Now the search begins for the program’s head coach, who will spend the fall and spring recruiting student-athletes for the newly formed team. Soon you’ll hear the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd cheering on the latest Blazer home run batter!

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Reunion Weekend: Just Around the Corner

Alums from across the country are packing their suitcases, making final travel preparations and getting ready to head to Hood for Reunion Weekend. They are looking forward to reconnecting with classmates, sharing stories from their years at Hood, laughing and remembering. Starting Friday, 300 alumni from the classes of 1945 through 2008 will arrive with spouses, children, significant others and friends to attend luncheons, class dinners, picnics, mini-class sessions, excursions to local attractions, traditional strawberry breakfast and more. We at Hood have been busy planning for the weekend and are eagerly awaiting their arrivals.

Alums will be excited to see all the changes on campus—renovated residence halls and academic buildings, new tennis courts and aquatic facilities, new athletic center, attractive landscaping, inviting gathering places and more—and to learn about new programs and cutting-edge initiatives that keep Hood in the forefront of academia.

Welcome alumni. We can’t wait to see you on campus!

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A Day Without Shoes: Taking Things for Granted

For a number of years, Hood College students have participated in One Day Without Shoes, an event designed to create awareness about world poverty and the things we take for granted—shoes and sight. Toms, an organization committed to helping those in need, and its eight international organization partners team up each year for this fun, yet meaningful event. And throughout the year, with every shoe or eyewear product purchased from Toms, the organization donates a like item to individuals who can’t afford them.

Hood students joined thousands of students on campuses across the country who are concerned about world poverty. Even though the music was blasting on the Whitaker Campus Center patio, the mission was serious. The pile of donated shoes, which grew throughout the afternoon, made a clear statement: Hood students care and are committed to service and helping those less fortunate.

Students in Tim Jacobsen’s photojournalism class recorded the day’s events, which can be viewed on YouTube.

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Commencement: 116 Years and Going Strong

The tent went up Wednesday in preparation for the May 19 Commencement exercises. The day dawned cloudy—and remained that way—but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the 317 undergraduates and 212 master’s degree candidates who received their diplomas during two ceremonies held on the residential quad.

Graduating seniors were excited that Antonio Mendez, artist, author and former Central Intelligence Agency officer, delivered the Commencement address during the 10 a.m. ceremony. A few weeks earlier they were treated to a showing of the Oscar award-winning film Argo, so they were well informed about his single-handed rescue of six American diplomats from Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis.

Retired Army Col. Zygmunt Dembek, M.S. ’82, senior scientist for the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine’s Cooperative Biological Engagement Program at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., spoke at the 3 p.m. graduate school ceremony. Throughout his very impressive career, Zygmunt has worked to protect and prepare the citizens of the nation and the world against bioterrorism and the outbreak of disease.

They, along with chair of the board of trustees Cheryl Brown Dreiling ’69, one of the longest serving members of the board—her tenure has spanned the terms of three presidents—received honorary degrees.

Former trustee Charlie Nicodemus, LHD ’05, and his wife, Kathryn, LHD ’05, were each recognized at the undergraduate ceremony with the Hood College Presidential Medal of Excellence for their generosity and commitment to the College.

 Oh the Places You’ll Go with your Hood degrees: as you start or look to expand your careers, or seek more advanced degrees at graduate schools throughout the world, we at Hood are quite certain your successes will know no bounds!

View all the photos from Commencement.

Pictured: Graduating seniors Bridgitte McColligan and Will Lane.

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Honors Convocation

It’s an annual tradition for the campus community to gather together in the spring to celebrate student, faculty and staff achievements during the past year. Yesterday, in Coffman Chapel, 107 students were honored for excellence, some earning awards in several categories. Six staff members were recognized by their peers and students for service and leadership. Oney Smith, associate professor of biology, walked away with three awards—outstanding contributions to his profession and the College through scholarship and service, exceptional advising and inspirational teaching—well deserved! In all, 93 prizes were awarded to 114 people.

Stephanie Taylor (above, with President Volpe), a senior from Huntingtown, Md., was a recipient of The Biology Faculty Award. She has distinguished herself as a researcher extraordinaire—she completed a bioinformatics internship in parasite genomics at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Md., and conducted research on genotyping patients with chronic kidney disease at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research at Fort Detrick. Wow!

We applaud Hood students, faculty and staff for their accomplishments.

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The Stage was Alive with Avenue Q

Each of the four Avenue Q performances this past weekend played to sold-out crowds. Kudos to senior Ashley Birdsell, director and choreographer, and to all the actors, stage managers, set designers and builders, technicians and musicians!

Clearly, the cast members enjoyed themselves on stage Saturday night—the singing and somewhat bawdy dialog and lyrics were delivered with panache. The set was simple yet realistic and the stage direction was flawless. It is a story to which nearly everyone can relate.

Avenue Q, raunchy though it may be, is a show with heart,” wrote Birdsell in the show’s playbill. “We connect to these puppets on multiple levels: first and foremost there is pure nostalgia for our bygone Sesame Street days. But as we ready ourselves to face life after Hood, we empathize with Princeton, who is just trying to find his purpose in life. We connect with Kate, who maintains her sense of self while looking for love; and Rod, who is trying to make peace with who he really is.”

Co-founded by Birdsell and senior Billy Lewis in 2010, the troupe has known a number of successes—Spelling Bee, Making Noise and Broadway 101. A primarily student-run company, HCSMT relies on the support of faculty and staff, the SGA and donations from theater-goers.

Check out HCSMT’s next production; you won’t be disappointed.

Pictured: Senior Jahtay Teh and Princeton had lead roles in HCSMT’s production of Avenue Q

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Barbie Bungee Jumping and More at Math Day

Every couple of years or so, Hood’s math department invites area high school girls and their math teachers to a day of math discovery. Why only girls? Because traditionally, girls shy away from math-related majors and careers. The event, named Sonia Kovalevsky Day for the first woman to receive a doctorate in mathematics, is designed to encourage young women to continue their study of math. So, on March 11, 50 high schoolers took over Hodson Science and Technology Center, performing experiments and calculating outcomes for a number of problems presented to them. Like, Barbie Bungee Jumping. Teams of students were charged with determining how many rubber bands should be used to make a bungee cord so that Barbie could have a thrilling, but safe bungee-jump from the third floor balcony. No fatalities, thank goodness. Guess those girls knew what they’re doing!