As freshmen, sophomores and juniors at the College of William and Mary said their temporary goodbyes for the summer, the Class of 2011 prepared to say farewell as graduates.
A weekend that included a dance, an alumni ceremony and the traditional walk across campus culminated in a commencement ceremony, held in William and Mary Hall May 15. The ceremony traditional includes addresses from the College’s president, a commencement speaker, awards, and a speech by a chosen student. During this year’s speech, graduates were told to go play in traffic.
This year’s commencement speaker was chairman of Willis Group Holdings and College alumnus Joseph Plumeri ’66.
“Memories are what make this place special,” Plumeri said. “This campus is a shrine of tradition. But tradition can be a jailor. It’s the dreams of where life will lead you that I’ll talk about today.”
Plumeri’s speech focused on making dreams come true, and that an education at the College has helped to allow the graduates to achieve their goals.
“This place helped me realize my dreams,” he said. “Dreams, fed by vision, passion, integrity and an enduring belief that anything is possible, is what you and I share, bridged by the decades.”
The theme of his presentation was for everyone to “play in traffic;” to take necessary risks in order to accomplish dreams.
“Sometimes, it requires great personal risk,” he said. “Other times, it only requires you move beyond your comfort zone. And that’s my message: go play in traffic, and find out what’s possible. You won’t make a difference by sitting on the sidelines.”
He elaborated, detailing his guide to playing in traffic with what he called “signs along the road.”
“Go play in traffic,” Plumeri emphasized. “When you do, keep four big ideas in mind. Number one: have a vision and go for it. Number two: bring passion to your vision. Number three: match your passion and vision with integrity. And number four: remember, absolutely anything is possible.”
Plumeri then went on to praise the class and summarize his belief that people should strive to achieve their dreams, even if that means running into risk.
“Most people in the world know all these words,” he described. “They know ‘vision’ – but they don’t see it. They know passion – but they don’t feel it. They know integrity – but they don’t live by it. They know the words – but they don’t know the music. In your years at William and Mary, you learned the words. I’ve just told you where the music comes from. It comes from your heart. I told you earlier this place has heart. Now you know what I mean. The music is the visceral, electrifying feeling you have in your heart. See it. Feel it. Live by it. Go play in traffic, the music beating in your heart, knowing that anything is possible.”
The audience was also addressed by Kalyani Phansalkar ’11, a chosen student speaker.
“Our experiences at the College have taught us how to search,” Phansalkar said. “The people we have met and the time we spent together has allowed us to be inspired. Wherever our passion is – these years have shown us we have the capacity to find it.”
The ceremony concluded with a closing remark by College President Taylor Reveley.
“Everyone, this is a glorious day,” Reveley said to the graduates. “There is only one William and Mary – and now it’s yours.”