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In a commencement address on Sunday at Colby College, Reverend Peter J. Gomes, spoke to the 466 graduating seniors about the necessity of virtue and the inevitability of failure. “The fine art of failure is the means to the greater art of endurance and ultimately perseverance and success,” said Gomes. “If you attempt something worth failing in, which is the amendment of your own life, you will join that multitude of the wise who are a blessing to the world, a blessing to one another and a blessing to themselves.” Gomes is the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in Harvard University’s Memorial Church.

“You can make a difference in your life, but the way to do it my dear young friends is to start small. Start with yourself. That’s a pretty big project. Then move on to the next person and the next person and the next person. You will have a chance to work on the most important project the world has ever known—you, your life and the difference you make in it for yourself and for others.”

Aura M. Janze of Swanton, Vt., valedictorian and class marshal, led the procession of seniors at Colby’s 180th commencement. Students, applauded by classmates, professors and families, individually received diplomas and congratulations from Colby President William D. Adams, presiding at his first Colby commencement.

Todd W. Miner of Westwood, Mass., elected by his classmates to address the convocation, entertained the crowd with a brief interpretive dance and a story about childhood pyromania. “Like this story, the difficult and the bad times here at Colby have not always been as clear as they may seem,” he said. “I learned something more. Like all of us here, I have the power of fire and what I do with my life affects the world around me.”

Adams awarded Colby’s Randall J. Condon Medal, the only prize presented at commencement, to Jacqueline O. Ogutha of Nairobi, Kenya. Her classmates and the faculty voted to honor her with the award for constructive citizenship.

Honorary degrees were presented to Gomes; Gerald Dorros, M.D., cardiologist and president of the Arizona Heart Institute & Foundation; Robert H. Edwards, outgoing president of Bowdoin College; and Linda J. Greenlaw, swordboat captain, author and 1983 Colby graduate.

For a full transcript of Gomes’s address contact Alicia MacLeay ([email protected] or 207-872-3220).