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December 17, 2007

First in Class of 2008 Bid Goodbye to Campus

View a photo gallery of the event

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- When Julie Bacon ’08J transferred to Smith from Bentley College in January 2005, she did not intend to also graduate three years later in January. But, with her appetite for a hefty course load, the credits for a double major in mathematics and economics quickly added up.

So Bacon is now one of 55 seniors who will finish their studies this semester, and whose accomplishments were celebrated during a December 14 reception at the President’s House.

Bacon thinks the mid-year departure improved her chances for snagging a job (she has accepted an actuarial post at Hartford Life Insurance Company) because the vast majority of college students have another semester to complete before accepting employment. But, it also means saying an early goodbye to a community to which she had grown attached.

“I will miss the intellectual atmosphere and diversity at Smith,” says Bacon. “I love that there are no two people on the Smith campus who are exactly the same – and no one thinks that this is wrong. It’s a great experience to be in an environment where differences are celebrated and accepted.”

This year, the celebration for the students commonly referred to as “January completions” was a more casual gathering than previous years due to the elimination of the reading the graduates’ names. That shift reflects the desire to encourage students to return to campus for the commencement ceremony in May.

January completions make up only a small portion of the Class of 2008, which currently includes another 651 students. But, the contingent reflects the diversity of the larger group: transfer students, Ada Comstock Scholars and traditional-aged students are represented. Their hometowns spread across the United States as well as the world – three of the graduating students are from South Korea.

The reasons for their mid-year departures are also varied.

Georgina Herrera Moreno accelerated her Smith experience by applying some college credits she received for high school work to her double major in government and Portuguese-Brazilian studies. Now she looks forward to a bit of a break from academia before starting graduate school.

“I thought it would be a great way to get some time off from ‘school’ before graduate school,” says Herrera Moreno, who is currently waiting to hear about her applications for an advanced degree. “A nice, if short, break from deadlines and essays and class lectures.”

Herrera Moreno is pursuing that plan by traveling to Mexico for winter break and then moving home to Anderson, South Carolina.

Her January departure will allow her to shorten her exposure to the New England winter; the weather is something Herrera Moreno says she will “definitely not miss.”

However, the distance between campus and her home also means Herrera Moreno is unlikely to return to campus for commencement. She is among the graduates who plan to receive their diplomas in the mail.

By comparison, Bacon, who is from the nearby state of Connecticut, vows to participate in the May 18 commencement ceremony, with members of her extended family in tow.

“I will definitely return. Since there is not a real ceremony in December, there isn’t an official opportunity for my family to come and watch me graduate,” says Bacon. “Additionally, I have grandparents who live in Florida and they said that they didn’t want to travel to New England in December.”

“It’s very important to have my family here to celebrate this important event,” she adds.

12/17/07   By Kristen Cole
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