A Class of Compassion

Students gather in Johnson Chapel for Senior Assembly

“Do you remember four years ago?” asked Dean of the Faculty Catherine Epstein in her opening remarks at Senior Assembly on Wednesday. Epstein recalled that as first-years, the members of the class of 2019 had spent their first College meeting, the fall Convocation, sitting around the sides of Johnson Chapel with faculty seated in the middle. Now the community was back in the chapel one last time.

“But this afternoon, the seating is reversed,” Epstein said. “You are in the middle and the faculty surrounds you. We, the faculty, envelop you, we embrace you, and today you are at the very heart of our community.”

In reflecting on that community in their addresses, the two featured senior speakers—elected by their classmates—talked about weaknesses that they have come to realize are forms of strength.

Tucker J. Meijer ’19 spoke lightly and often comically of fear: from his fear of Mercury in retrograde, to his fear of climate change and, in a nod to a campus disruption earlier this year, “Wifi going down for a week—again.”

“Yes, graduating from College is also on that list,” he said. “I’m scared that when I cross the stage with my diploma in one hand and my cane in the other, I’ll suddenly be in this space of not knowing anything.”

But Meijer also reflected on the past four years of confronting fearful moments—from his first essay to his first party and first “I love you”—and how resilient the class of 2019 had become from the trepidations they were able to overcome.

So, Meijer said, he had decided to face the fear of graduation by “full-on bounding across that stage,” and added, “We’ll bound into this new and terrifying world together.”

Lindsay Noelle Turner ’19 talked about her first-year bout of depression. Repeatedly thanking her fellow seniors, she reflected on how that struggle had taught her how deeply her classmates care.

“When you are stripped down to your foundation,” she said, “you cannot build yourself back up alone.” 

While describing her fellow seniors in glowing terms—outstanding athletes, distinguished scholars, ambitious entrepreneurs, campus leaders, political advocates and gifted artists— Turner said they are more than those accomplishments. They are also the lights that help illuminate the worth of others.

“We all need people in our lives who raise our standards, remind us of our essential purpose and challenge us to become the best versions of ourselves possible,” she said. “When I look at our class, I see people who have raised the standards of others infinitely.”

The prizes, listed here with their recipients, were then awarded by President Biddy Martin to members of the class of 2019.

The Undergraduate Awards Ceremony was held on May 7 in Lewis-Sebring Commons.

Audio of Speeches

Senior Assembly took place on May 8, 2019, and featured the awarding of prizes and honorary class memberships, and speeches by Dean of the Faculty Catherine Epstein, Tucker J. Meijer ’19, Lindsay Noelle Turner ’19, and Josef G. Trapani, Associate Professor of Biology and Chair of Neuroscience.

Catherine Epstein, Dean of the Faculty

Catherine Epstein, Dean of the Faculty, opens Senior Assembly.

Audio file


Tucker J. Meijer ’19

Tucker J. Meijer ’19 addresses the Class of 2019.

Audio file

Lindsay Noelle Turner ’19
Audio file

Lindsay Noelle Turner ’19 addresses the Class of 2019.


Josef G. Trapani, Associate Professor of Biology, Chair of Neuroscience

Josef G. Trapani, Associate Professor of Biology, Chair of Neuroscience, addresses the Class of 2019.

Audio file