WILLIAMSTOWN -- Though not without formality, the Williams College Fall Convocation in Chapin Hall on Saturday also saw plenty of camaraderie and laughter, much of which came from a Convocation address by Erin Burnett, of CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront.
Williams President Adam Falk kicked off the celebration with opening remarks, urging the senior class to take full advantage of their last year at the college by being open to new adventures. Falk reminded students that they still have time to "discover sides of you that you didn't know existed."
Convocation, which celebrates the senior class and its accomplishments, is also where the recipients of the Bicentennial Medal are awarded. The prize honors members of the Williams community for distinguished achievement in any field of endeavor.
This year's recipients, all alumni of the college, are travel industry pioneer David Paresky; pediatric endocrinologist Norman Spack; Charles Waigi, founding director of the Jeremy School in Limuru, Kenya; Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan; and Erin Burnett, host of her own prime-time show on CNN, Erin Burnett OutFront.
Falk's remarks were followed by a cello selection -- Bach's Allemande from Suite No. 6 in D Major -- performed by Senior David Kealhofer.
College Council co-presidents Krista Pickett and Peter Skipper delivered a speech laden with jokes about life at Williams that garnered uproarious
Erin Burnett, a member of the Williams Class of 1998, gave the Convocation address. Having just returned from reporting from the Republican and Democratic national conventions, Burnett confessed to the attentive students that she had no clue what she wanted to do when she sat in their place 15 years ago, and that it took her a long time, and much trial and error, to get to where she is now.
"I was 27 years old when I went on television for the first time to report, so it took me five years after Williams to get there. Twenty-seven to you probably sounds really old, but it doesn't look that way from where I am now," she joked.
After stressing the importance of what she called "the three C's" -- conviction, courage, and civility -- for achieving success, Burnett concluded the ceremony much the same way it began, with a reminder to the Class of 2013 to not waste this last year as a Williams student.
"Time will pass so fast for you, so seize it. Here's my advice: If you've worked really, really hard over the past three years, pull it back, enjoy it. For those of you who have not worked so hard, now is definitely the time," she said. "You're never going to take that bizarre class that you're going to remember for the rest of your life if you don't do it now. So go ahead and stretch your mind and soak it in."