Tim Daly tells grads: Enjoy life

Friday June 3, 2011

BENNINGTON -- Actor Tim Daly, who’s played roles as Superman, a doctor, a cowboy, and a pilot, returned to his alma mater Friday evening to play the role of commencement speaker at Bennington College’s 76th commencement dinner.

At the podium, Daly recalled fond memories of his own time at Bennington -- from arriving to campus on his motorcycle wearing a leather jacket, "thinking I could spend a few years on this hill to escape and/or prepare for the real world," to the "dress to get laid party" that he said originated at the college more than 35 years ago.

Between frequent pauses for laughter and applause under a tent on the Commons Lawn, Daly acknowledged that his own success is not like a contagious disease or "seeds or manure that can be spread over the graduating class," but he did offer his own words of wisdom, as well as ones taken from the book, "All I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten."

On his own list, Daly warned the soon-to-be graduates to enjoy life because it goes fast. He also warned them there will be trouble along the way, and each of them will fail at one point or another, but if they learn to change and maintain dreams, they will be fine. Most important, he said, is to always be aware of, and embrace, love.

Daly, who graduated from Bennington College in 1979, also clued students in on the fact that, although he came to the college to prepare for the "real world," there is no real world.

"I imagine that it’s part of my job and to assure you that Bennington does, in fact, prepare you for the real world. Well, here’s the thing -- there is no real world," Daly said. "It’s all real, whether you’re writing poetry in a field or changing brake pads or sitting in a cubicle at Goldman Sachs. There’s just one world and nothing in it is realer than anything else."

Student speaker Keenan Walsh also addressed the cliché of entering the real world upon graduating. Walsh said students have been in the "real world" throughout their years at college. He also asked his classmates to follow their passions and not fear the unknown, similar to the day each arrived on campus for the first time, not knowing what was ahead of them.

"Comparing now to then, to my first days here, I don’t know if, today, I am any less lost ... How could we be anything but lost? If we’re thinking, how could we be anything but confused? But what separates today’s feeling from that feeling four years ago is this: How could that feeling be anything but OK?" Walsh said.

"Next week, we’ll be all over the world, and I think we all know it’s easy to strive for the comfortable. But let’s not forget the tension of reflection and creativity -- let’s not forget what kept us, keeps us, awake at night. Let’s not forget what wakes us up," he said.

Ariana Ervin, a literature and drama major from Gainesville, Fla., is one of those students who said prior to the commencement dinner that she’s eager to continue exploring the unknown. She’ll be moving to Copenhagen, Denmark, to further her education, studying writing and Danish after graduation.

Even from the other side of the world, Ervin said she’ll cherish her friends met at Bennington.

"The thing that stands out to me the most about Bennington is the group of friends that I made and how close the community was," she said.

The other thing Ervin said she’ll miss most about the college is having the opportunity to take classes with professors who have had a worldwide impact, such as former Iranian ambassador Mansour Farhang, who teaches political science.

Caitlin Bryan, from Stoneham, Mass., said she’ll always remember her Field Work Terms in which she traveled to Rwanda to work with second generation genocide survivors and to Brazil to work with a nonprofit organization that tackle issues such as domestic violence and HIV and AIDS.

While majoring in gender and conflict resolution, Bryan said she had a lot of unique experiences on campus as well.

"I think the greatest part about the Bennington education is that you can take from so many different disciplines. I got to branch out and take dance classes and drawing classes and photo classes, and those helped all the other stuff I was doing as well," she said.

Today at 10 a.m., 169 students, including 155 undergraduates, will receive diplomas.

Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at draspuzzi@benningtonbanner.com


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