Elisa Riborty from Culver City Graduates Summa Cum Laude

Elisa A. Ribordy, of Culver City, CA, received a B.A. degree in English and Latin American Studies Summa Cum Laude during the 2024 Commencement Ceremonies of Hobart and William Smith Colleges on Sunday, May 19. Ribordy studied in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and is the child of Chad J. Ribordy and Angelica Mortel.

Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn delivered the Commencement Address. She told the Class of 2024 that building connections can be some of the most important parts of people's lives. "My call to all of you Statesmen and Herons of the Class of 2024 is to fiercely nourish and seek out connection," said Spahn. "Do not stay in your bubble or pod; I am talking about the kinds of deeply personal, curious, human connections made across difference that have the potential to alter the course of human history following a period of deep uncertainty and isolation."

In his valedictory address, President Mark D. Gearan called upon the graduates to honor the mission of Hobart and William Smith by leading a life of consequence, one committed to purpose, meaning and accomplishment. He stressed that the latest research reveals the significant impact that even casual interactions with people can have on our mental health and social wellbeing. "I believe we all have the opportunity, perhaps even a responsibility, to make an impact on others even if we don't realize it in the moment," said Gearan. "So Class of 2024 – dream big. Live a life with the inspiration of Nobel Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirlief, the first elected female head of State in Africa: "If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."

This year, HWS conferred four honorary degrees to individuals who represent the values and ideals of Hobart and William Smith. They included Spahn; best-selling author, screenwriter and producer Jessica Knoll '06; decorated air combat veteran and former HWS Director of Alumni Relations Lt. Col. John E. Norvell '66, P'99, P'02; and the late HWS Trustee Michael Rawlins '80, P'16, who served at the Walt Disney Company as Head of Enterprise Content and the Broadcast Media Design Team.


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