Harvard President Drew Faust encouraged graduating seniors this afternoon to tell their own stories as they venture into the world, new ones informed by their campus years, their passions, and their embrace of the uncomfortable and the unfamiliar.“Telling your own story, a fresh story, full of possibility and a new order of things, is the task of every generation, and the task before you,” Faust said during the Baccalaureate Service, an annual ritual and a final opportunity for Harvard’s president and clergy to meet informally with the seniors and offer them parting thoughts before Commencement.“Telling a new story isn’t easy,” Faust said. “It can take courage and resolve. It often means leaving the safe path for the unknown.”Dressed in their caps and gowns, seniors crowded into the Memorial Church with cellphones in hand, ready to tell immediate stories with Snapchat photos and videos. One of Harvard’s oldest traditions, dating back to 1642, the Baccalaureate ceremony included songs from the Commencement Choir and readings from Hindu Scriptures, the Hebrew Bible, Confucianism, Taoism, the New Testament, and the Quran.Professor Jonathan Walton and President Drew Faust watch as students enter the Memorial Church. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerIn her address, Faust walked students back through their own Harvard history: four years of adventure, adversity, and academic achievement. They faced fierce weather during their tenure, including a hurricane and historic snowfalls that shut down Harvard more than once. The Boston Marathon bombing drew them together and bonded them to the city “beyond Harvard Square,” she said. There was even an outbreak of the mumps.“For four years,” Faust said, “you have distinguished yourselves with dazzling variety.” Among its many accomplishments, the Class of 2016 produced six Rhodes Scholars, prize-winning senior theses on sea-level change and a water crisis in Michigan, and the play “Black Magic,” written by five African-American Harvard students and mounted at the Loeb Drama Center. The class also produced standout athletes, including six headed to the National Football League, and students eager to help combat malaria, battle global warming, fight for social justice, and change the world.Faust returned to her message from Harvard’s rainy 2012 convocation when she and others urged the then-incoming freshmen to connect, and make Harvard part of their narrative. “Take risks, we told you. Don’t always listen to us.”Danoff Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana (center) speaks to seniors heading into the Memorial Church. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerOn another cloudy afternoon just two days before their graduation, she urged them to continue to push past their comfort zones, to look beyond Harvard’s long and successful narrative in order to “locate the discomfort, to act on the restless spirit of that legacy.”Frame your own narrative, Faust told them, something for which their Harvard education has uniquely prepared them. Be “mindful of others,” but never allow others to dictate your story, she said, calling to mind the words of the late Rev. Peter J. Gomes, who was Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church: “Don’t let anyone finish your sentences for you.”“Telling our own stories is not just about us,” Faust said. “It is a conversation with others, exploring larger purposes and other worlds and different ways of thinking. Only by knowing that other stories are possible,” she said, “can we imagine a different future.”In her address, President Drew Faust walked students back through their own Harvard history: four years of adventure, adversity, and academic achievement. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerAs with any great story, the historian and author said revision is key to the process. “Keep revising,” Faust urged her listeners, encouraging them to rely on their liberal arts education to rework their story lines beyond Harvard’s gates. “The best education prepares you because it is unsettling, an obstacle course that forces us to question and push and reinvent ourselves, and the world, in a new way.“So congratulations, Class of 2016,” Faust concluded. “Don’t forget from whence you came. Change the narrative. Rewrite the story. There is no one I would rather trust with that task.”Afterward, Allejah Franco, a history and literature concentrator, said Faust’s call for seniors to write their own stories helped him to feel more confident about his future. The Winthrop House resident said he eventually wants to attend law school, but his immediate plans point toward something else entirely.“I want to take a detour,” said Franco. “I am going to go to Japan for at least a year, work as a translator, and just explore that route of life, and write my own story that way.”Baccalaureate Service — May 24, 2016 | Memorial Church Professor Jonathan L. Walton and Harvard President Drew Faust speak during the Baccalaureate Service for the Class of 2016 inside Memorial Church.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Long Island’s premier scientific research center could lose millions in federal aid under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, lawmakers warned Friday.U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer held a press conference at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in Upton in which he raised concern over the potential loss of funds as part of Trump’s proposed $900 million cut to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The lab, which falls under the purview of the Energy Department, employs close to 3,000 people, many of them decorated scientists. BNL in recent years has received more than $540 million in federal funds from the various agencies that support scientific research, including the Energy Department’s Office of Science. “This major Department of Energy budget cut is a cut to our future, a cut to our knowledge, a cut to our research and a cut to good-paying Long Island jobs,” Schumer said. “Brookhaven National Lab is home to some of the world’s brightest minds and most cutting-edge innovations, which both advance human knowledge and spur our economy.” Trump released the first budget proposal of his presidency this week, and it features more robust spending for defense and significant cuts to the State Department and environmental initiatives. A bipartisan group of lawmakers from Long Island and Connecticut have already called on new Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, a climate change skeptic, to ensure funding for Long Island Sound protection projects remains in place. Among the signatories to the letter to Pruitt was Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) who on Friday said he “strongly” opposes potential cuts to BNL and other research centers in his district, including Stony Brook University. “Throughout the years, we have seen some of the world’s greatest science research conducted at these facilities,” said Zeldin, adding that he supported more funding for national security and veterans care. Federal funding for BNL helps the lab conduct cutting-edge research to improve the country’s energy security and is an important economic engine and job creator, Schumer argued. Loss of federal aid could put a strain on projects like X-ray imaging and the lab’s highly touted Relativistic Ion Collider, which allows scientists from around the world to study the universe’s makeup as it was shortly after its creation. The president’s budget still needs to go through the legislative process, and it’s possible the budget could take on a different form once Congress has an opportunity to scrutinize the package offered by the administration. Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday came out in vehement opposition to Trump’s budget, criticizing certain cuts as anathema to American values. “Enacting this bill would mark a fundamental transformation in what America stands for, and what role our country plays in the world,” Cuomo said. “We have always maintained a strong military, but we have always offered the world more than arms. The Lady in the Harbor does not brandish her fist at the world; she raises a light.”