Academic achievement prizes, prize scholarships and other recognition of student accomplishments were awarded at Hamilton’s 65th annual Class & Charter Day convocation on Monday, May 11, in Wellin Hall. Among the top prizes Abigail Homer ’16 was awarded the Milton F. Fillius Jr. /Joseph Drown Prize Scholarship, and Meghan O’Sullivan ’15 was named the recipient of the James Soper Merrill Prize.

John Hadity ’83, a film financing expert and executive vice president for EP Financial Solutions, gave the address titled “The Underrated Element of Surprise.” He noted that ever since he was a student Class & Charter Day, has been among his favorite days because “it was full of surprises.” He recalled entering Hamilton intending to major in pre-med but then found his passion with the arts. “I loved the arts and the moment I shifted my focus and attention to the things I loved, my life changed,” he said.

After graduation, Hadity recalled, he went to New York to pursue his dream job in film, eventually getting hired by a studio. After trying different aspects of the film industry he found he loved acquisitions. Hadity eventually joined Bob and Harvey Weinstein at Miramax and “am proud to have my fingerprints on pretty much every Miramax movie you’ve ever heard of.”

Recalling some of his “bad” movies, Hadity advised that “When you start making a movie you have to believe it’s going to be good. When you start out making anything you have to believe it’s going to be good. When you start designing your senior art project, or outlining your senior thesis or composing your senior – well – composition you have to believe it’s going to be good, Or why on earth would you waste your time in the first place. We all fail and we all succeed at stuff…Life’s full of surprises.”

“That’s my message. Hang in there. You get surprised,” Hadity concluded.

Fillius/ Drown winner Abigail Homer is a classical studies and psychology major from Ellsworth, Maine. She studied in France last fall through Hamilton’s program there. A member of the women’s varsity indoor and outdoor track and field team she has been involved with Alternative Spring Break.

The Milton F. Fillius, Jr. /Joseph Drown Prize Scholarship, established by the Joseph Drown Foundation, is awarded to a student completing the junior year who has been very successful academically, who has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities while at Hamilton and who is likely to make a significant contribution to society in the future.

Soper Merrill recipient Meghan O’Sullivan is a comparative literature and public policy major from Madison, Conn. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa honor society last fall and studied abroad in Spain last year. O’Sullivan received a Smallen Creativity Grant to explore the way that intertextual effects of “self-writing” on identity formation, especially for young women at Hamilton, can be mapped, and created a visual art piece. In 2013 she participated in the Levitt Leadership Institute and was the recipient of a Kirkland Summer Associate Research grant. She worked with refugee women in nearby Utica to create a podcast about their experiences.

O’Sullivan volunteers on and off the Hill. She was an Outreach Adventure pre-orientation leader, a COOP Service Intern, founder and director of the Sidekicks mentoring program at Clinton Elementary School, and director of the first-year leadership and mentoring program, LEAP.

The James Soper Merrill Prize is awarded to the member of the graduating class “who, in character and influence, has typified the highest ideals of the College.” The winner is selected by the faculty and speaks at Commencement.

A total of 164 students won other prizes and scholarships for public speaking, writing and achievement in all academic disciplines.

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