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.


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.


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

SK Day

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!