Cherian Thomas’ Commencement Address Transcript

At the May 20 Graduate School Commencement ceremony, Cherian Thomas, MBA’12, founder and CEO of Spotluck, Inc., told the story of his start out of college and how he came to start his company. He urged the 230 graduates to surround themselves with the right people—people to mentor, complement, and support them—and they will find success.

“It’s not about finding the right job; it’s about finding the right people,” he said. “Find your missing pieces. Find those key people. Find that mentor and ride their coattails as far as you can. Find or be found. If you’re not starting a business, be a complement to someone who is. Find those who have supported you and right after this speech, and thank them. Your accomplishment today is just as exciting for them as it is for you.”

Following is a full transcript of Thomas’ remarks. Watch the video. Check out the selfie at the 1:24 mark!

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Betsy McCain McAlpine ’51 Awarded Honorary Degree

Betsy McCain McAlpine ’51 received the first honorary degree of the day at our May 20 Commencement. As the granddaughter of Hood’s founder, Joseph Henry Apple, McAlpine has been involved with the College since her birth. Over the course of her lifetime, McAlpine’s support of and dedication to Hood College has been immeasurable.

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Krishanti Vignarajah

Krishanti Vignarajah’s Commencement Address Transcript: “The Progress, Plight & Promise of Women in America”

At the May 20 undergraduate Commencement ceremony, Kristhanti Vignarajah, First Lady Michelle Obama’s former policy director, congratulated Hood’s 282 graduates and asked for their help in promoting gender equity as they head out into the world to make a difference, delivering “a call to action on behalf of a generation that desperately needs you.”

“Today, I want to talk with you about the historic progress and modern plight of women in this country, about the journey that remains from citizenship to leadership, from having a seat at table to being at the head of it,” she said.

“To the men in the audience, this movement is about the mothers who brought you into this world, the daughters you will one day help bring into the world, and the women who are or will become your partners and best friends in everything you do. I don’t say this simply because the fate of women impacts the future of men, but because we need your help. Achieving true equality may be the one thing women cannot do alone.”

Following is a full transcript of Vignarajah’s remarks. Watch the video.

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The Best Decision I Ever Made

By Kaylene Wright ’17

Applying to Hood College was an impulse decision.

I was born and raised in Littleton, Colorado. Usually when I tell people this, I get an instant reaction of, “how did you find Hood?” or “why are you all the way over here?”

When time came around to apply to colleges, I was all set in applying to in-state schools. One day in late October of my senior year, one student’s statement about going out-of-state to “gain a new perspective” lit a lightbulb in my head.  That day, I used an online college compatibility tool to look at schools close to Washington, DC. I am graduating with a degree in Political Science and Communication Arts, so this area interested me quite a bit.

Hood College came up as a 100% match and I visited that November, along with other colleges in DC. The moment I stepped onto campus, I knew it was the school for me.

Choosing Hood College was the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve received an engaging and personalized education with wonderful professors that I know care about me – both as a student, and as a person.

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60 Things to do Before You Graduate—Finals Week Checklist

By Mary Milligan ’17

Commencement is just around the corner! Whether you’re graduating or you’ll be back in the fall, before you head out the doors for summer make sure you check these items off your list of “60 Things to do Before You Graduate!”

  • •  Attend a Frederick Key’s baseball game
  • •  Take a break from studying and stop for a late night Sheetz run
  • •  See if you can grab a lunch date with Dean White or Provost Ricker
  • •  Procrastinate by riding every elevator on campus
  • •  Take an evening stroll through Baker Park
  • •  Grab a picture with President Chapdelaine #SnapWithChap
  • •  Study for your finals and finish off your last projects by pulling an all nighter in Whitaker
  • •  Wake up at 7 a.m. and be sure to get the best parking spot you can have
  • •  Attend Baccalaureate
  • •  And for all those who are graduating, don’t forget to walk through the Pergola as an alum!
60 Things to do Before You Graduate

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17_Abraham Kettor

Student to Work for Peace in Liberia

Abraham Kettor ’19 will travel to Liberia to improve educational development of high school students through the Davis Projects for Peace grant.

Kettor noticed that students seemed to be giving up on the educational system in Monrovia, Liberia, and those who did not were still at risk for dropping out. He said this problem is due in large part to the prolonged, brutal and destructive period of civil unrest, corruption within the government and the most recent school closures due to the Ebola viral disease.

He plans to travel to Liberia where he will meet five volunteers from the education department at the University of Liberia. They will serve as mentors to 25 selected students who are in jeopardy of failing or dropping out of high school.

“We will help inspire students to believe in themselves and encourage them to go to college after high school,” Kettor said. “We will work with them to not only find inner peace but to also think about ways to establish and maintain that peace in Liberia for generations to come.”

The hope is that after a five-week, after-school reading and writing program, students will be able to write compelling essays with good grammar. Kettor also wishes to organize a small library that would provide students free textbooks as well as three computers to enable students to connect globally.

Kettor, a Liberian native, heard about the Davis Foundation from a friend, and after watching Le Nguyen’s presentation, he felt the need to apply. He grew up during the first and second civil wars in Liberia.

“After living in the war-torn country for 17 challenging years, the ideas of peace, love, and hope have become essential parts of my life,” he said.

Kettor plans to leave May 29 and return within the first week of July.

The Davis Projects for Peace is an invitation to undergraduates to design grassroots projects to be implemented during the summer. The objective is to encourage and support motivated youth to try out their ideas for building peace.

Read about Kettor’s experience.


Hood Joins Team One Love for Sexual Assault Awareness

by Zac Kauffman ’17, a Law and Society and Business Administration major with a concentration in Human Resources and a Hood College lacrosse player

As you know, April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, and in this month, it is important for us to take a moment to reflect and have a conversation about sexual assault and domestic violence. Sexual assault and domestic violence are serious issues that affect many people we know and love. The damage victims experience is long-lasting. Too often we forget that the harm is not limited just to the individuals, but reverberates throughout our society. Despite the horrible impact of sexual assault and domestic violence, communities are seldom united in their attempt to address and combat these problems.

Many of the problems we have unifying an approach to sexual assault and domestic violence comes from how we communicate about it, and it starts with our perspectives and labeling of the issues. It is unfortunate that sexual assault and domestic violence are often labeled as “women’s issues” when they are anything but. Dubbing sexual assault and domestic violence as “women’s issues” shifts the responsibility for action away from men, making it seem as though these issues do not apply to men. It is imperative that we look at sexual assault and domestic violence as a societal matter. We cannot be reliant on a few good men to help aid in the fight while the rest remain unresponsive and silent. We cannot view sexual assault and domestic violence as a “women’s issue.” Men should and must help to focus efforts and attention on these issues in order to create an effective alliance against these heinous abuses within our society. As the great Martin Luther King Jr. said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Without the participation of all members of our society, we aren’t able to completely combat these issues. We must band together.

For this Sexual Assault Awareness month, members of the Hood College community, both men and women, are coming together to face the issues of sexual assault and domestic violence. The Women’s Lacrosse team, the Men’s Lacrosse team and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee are uniting to promote the One Love Foundation. The One Love Foundation, founded in honor of Yeardley Love, raises awareness about unhealthy relationships, and works to “help activate communities to change the statistics around relationship violence.” The foundation advocates awareness and activism through an event called Yards for Yeardley, where the members of the community are invited to walk one million yards in a week. We are trying to reach this goal between April 17 to April 21 on the Thomas Athletic Field, and all are welcome. Information tables on the One Love Foundation and Yards for Yeardley will be set up in the Whitaker Campus Center Monday, April 17, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm and in Coblentz Dining Hall. Additionally, the Women’s and Men’s Lacrosse teams will play dedication games on April 13 and April 22. We hope to see you there!

One Love Committee left to right: Christina Murphy ’17, Zac Kauffman ’17, Samantha Bauer ’19, Larissa Pena ’20, Danny Capps ’18, Samy Brandt ’20

Bart Walter

Wildlife Sculptor Describes His Career in Art

The “Passion and Profession” series recently brought sculptor Bart Walter to campus to speak about his work and how he followed his passion into a career.

Walter uses a biologist’s eye to capture wildlife, and his depictions are life-like and based on animals he has studied in the field.

A Maryland native, he has sculpted throughout North America and Africa, in places such as Kenya, Rwanda, Botswana, Uganda Manitoba, Canada, Montana and Wyoming. His sculptures reside in public and private collections including the Ugandan Wildlife Authority Headquarters in Kampala, the collection of King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia and the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Walter’s sculptures help to continue the tradition of previous animaliers—artists who specialize in the realistic portrayal of animals. His holistic view toward his inspiration and creation of his work has gained admiration worldwide.

The “Passion and Profession” series, created by the Center for Career Development and Experiential Learning and the Office of the Dean of the Chapel, brings to campus speakers whose careers are based in a particular set of personal values that connect to a current social justice issue. The mission of the series is to introduce students to a variety of professions, to hear the stories of successful individuals and their preparation for and practice of a profession, as well as to understand how a liberal arts education has contributed to their personal and professional development.

Watch an interview with Bart Walter here.

Helene Cooper

New York Times Pentagon Correspondent Speaks on Campus

By Mary Milligan

Helene Cooper, author and journalist for The New York Times, visited Hood College this week, and as a communications student, it was fascinating to see the insight she provided.

I was fortunate enough to sit with Cooper for dinner. She was very attentive to all of the students and faculty sitting with her. She engaged everyone in conversation, talking about what we do, as well as what we hope to do in the future.

One of my concerns with President Trump was his language with the media, and how that might affect me upon entering the field. Cooper, however, reassured me that they have been finding his attacks on the press humorous.

As we discussed her book, surrounding the first woman president in Liberia, she told us what is was like essentially being on the campaign trail (campaigning only lasts for two months!) and people forgetting sometimes that she was a journalist. She reassured us that she was not trying to be malicious or ever pretended not to be a journalist; people were just so used to her that they would often just continue to talk.

For any other student interested by journalism, I would highly encourage you to talk to someone of Cooper’s caliber, and to take advantage of the speakers coming to campus.

Cooper has been a reporter for more than 25 years. She has worked for The Providence Journal in Rhode Island, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. She has covered several international events including the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and she Ebola outbreak in Liberia in 2014.

Helene Cooper Interview

Katie Mann
Katie Mann
Payton Mills
Payton Mills

At the Maryland Collegiate Honors Conference, Hood Honors students Katie Mann ’17 and Payton Mills ’19 won awards commending their work. This event was co-hosted on campus with Frederick Community College and brought together more than 100 students and faculty from Honors Programs throughout the state.

Mann won Best Poster for the poster about her research regarding her yearlong Department Honors project. She has been researching the portrayal of women in sitcoms over the decades and how it has changed. The research took into account things such as the portrayal of working mothers and if they are accurately represented on sitcoms compared to the U.S. Department of Labor statistics.

“In the end, I was very proud of the way my poster came out and felt it was a good display of the work I have done,” she said. “It was really nice to know that other people also enjoyed my poster and my research.”

It was the first time Mann had presented at a conference.

“It was rewarding to get to present my findings to people and to receive their feedback,” she said.

Mills won Best Proposal for her research paper on the revitalization of Carroll Creek and how it affected the Frederick Community. She divided her research into three sections: the history of industry and segregation along the creek, the flood of 1976, and the positive impact the mural “Community Bridge” by artist William Cochran had on the Frederick community.

“Every student at the conference presented outstanding research, so for my research to be distinguished was a gratifying experience,” she said.

Mills enjoyed presenting for more than 50 students and faculty members from a variety of different Maryland Honors Programs. During the conference, she also led a City as Text tour of Carroll Creek Linear Park to explain the revitalization that happened there after the flood.

“The conference perfectly represented Hood’s goal of providing students with experiential learning opportunities,” she said.