NCAA-bound women’s lacrosse seniors urged to ‘trust in your abilities’ during Special Commencement

2024 Special Commencement
The six women’s lacrosse seniors and Head Coach Charlotte Hibbard travel to Connecticut for the regional round of the NCAA Division III Championship this weekend.

Over the last four years, the six seniors on the Gettysburg College women’s lacrosse team have sharpened their enduring skills on the turf of Clark Field and in the classrooms across campus. On Thursday evening, in front of family and friends, those women were recognized as part of a Special Commencement Ceremony inside Kline Theater, paving the way for the continuation of their run into the NCAA Division III Women’s Lacrosse Championship this weekend.

“Class of 2024—whether it’s the start of graduate school, the launch of your career, a historic run in the NCAA playoffs, or the unexpected twists tomorrow inevitably will bring—the adventure of a lifetime is ahead of you,” said Gettysburg College President Bob Iuliano.

Since 2006, Gettysburg has held a special graduation event for student-athletes who would miss the main Commencement ceremony due to postseason competition. This year’s Special Commencement marked the 14th overall in the last 18 years and third in a row for Iuliano.

“It’s a special moment to not only recognize our graduates and their success as students, but also the incredible work they’ve done as women’s lacrosse players in representing our college at the national level,” said head women’s lacrosse coach Charlotte Hibbard. “We’re grateful to the Gettysburg community and President Iuliano for rallying behind our athletes and organizing such a special commencement for our six seniors.”

Special Commencement 2024

Calling each of the graduates by name, Iuliano asked them to stand, allowing the assembled gathering of family, friends, faculty, and staff inside the theater to recognize their achievements.

Bachelor of Arts

Bachelor of Science

“Class of 2024—whether it’s the start of graduate school, the launch of your career, a historic run in the NCAA playoffs, or the unexpected twists tomorrow inevitably will bring—you have the adventure of a lifetime before you.”
– President Bob Iuliano

In his remarks, Iuliano compared the arduous journey hikers endure when they step onto the nearby Appalachian Trail to the start of the seniors’ college journey four years ago amidst a global pandemic. He noted two common sayings by those who embark on the 2,000-mile journey from Georgia to Maine. The first—“You pack your fears”—refers to fearing the unknown and preparing for the worst, instead of trusting in your abilities. The second—“A mile today is worth two tomorrow”—reminds hikers that everyday is difficult on the trail and they should push to be their best every day. Together, like hikers on the trail, the lacrosse seniors endured, gaining the knowledge and enduring skills needed to be successful on and off the field.

2024 Special Commencement
Surrounded by their family and teammates, the newest graduates from the Class of 2024 take in the moment inside Kline Theater.

“May you have the courage to forfeit your fears and trust in your abilities,” Iuliano said. “May you have the will to push yourself to be your very best today and every day. You have done this on the lacrosse field over the past four years. Take those lessons with you and I promise you it will make all the difference.”

During the ceremony, Basso was also recognized by Provost Jamila Bookwala as the winner of the Clair B., Mary E., and Constance Noerr (Baker) Memorial Award, which is given each year to a female senior based on her proficiency in athletics, scholarship, and character.

“At Gettysburg College, our student-athletes embody a spirit of dual excellence,” Bookwala noted. “Here, we don’t just encourage you to be either a student or an athlete. We expect you to be both, and to do both well—to the very best of your ability.”

A three-time first-team All-American and the first three-time Centennial Conference Offensive Player of the Year ever, Basso graduated from Gettysburg magna cum laude.

“Gettysburg has prepared me for the next chapter of my life very well,” Basso said. “Being a student-athlete, I have learned a lot about leadership, organization, time management, and being a part of a team. I have learned to voice my opinions and also to not be afraid to ask for help. I have learned to be proud and confident in myself and my abilities.”

2024 Special Commencement
Jordan Basso ’24 with her parents following Special Commencement.

Faculty speaker and Economics Prof. Meg Blume-Kohout took the stage and reminded the lacrosse players of the trials and tribulations they overcame, persevering through quarantines and isolation and eventually taking the field to play a truncated season of lacrosse during their first year on campus. Despite that difficult start, they continued on with tenacity and determination, capturing a conference title and advancing to the national championship game in the following years, while also engaging in Greek life, study abroad, and other experiential learning opportunities.

“As you walk across this stage, take with you the confidence that you have what it takes—the knowledge, skills, strength, resilience, creativity, compassion, and grit—both to achieve and to rally others to achieve bold goals,” Blume-Kohout said. “Rely on the team sitting next to you, but also remember that your team is becoming far bigger. In the years ahead, you will forever have the whole Gettysburg community cheering you on, just as we have the past four years, from the bleachers to the biology labs.”

2024 Special Commencement
Emily Seymour ’24 strides across the stage after receiving her degree in psychology.

After having their degrees conferred by President Iuliano and hearing a rendition of the alma mater by Benjamin McCarley ’24, the new graduates stood in front of their families, coaches, and teammates poised and ready to tackle their next great adventures on and off the field with the support of the Gettysburg community in tow.

“Graduates, our entire campus and beyond will be cheering for you this week,” Iuliano said. “You have represented the Orange and Blue with pride and integrity. While we all hope that you meet success in the games ahead, please know that you are already champions in the eyes of your new alma mater.”

Special Commencement opens the door for the seniors, their families, and team personnel to finalize their travel plans for the weekend and focus on the game plan against some of the top Division III lacrosse programs in the country. On Saturday, Gettysburg will square off with William Smith College on the campus of Wesleyan (Conn.) University, at 2:30 p.m. It is a rematch of a 2023 semifinal contest, won by the Bullets 15-10.

Gettysburg’s softball team is also competing this weekend in the NCAA Division III Softball Championship at Virginia Wesleyan University. Due to travel plans, the team was unable to participate in the Special Commencement Ceremony alongside women’s lacrosse, but an additional graduation event will be held if the softball team is unable to return in time for Saturday’s main Commencement Ceremony.

For more information about the Class of 2024 Commencement exercises, please visit the official Commencement website.

By Corey Jewart
Photos by Abbey Frisco
Posted: 05/17/24

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