As music pumped across Keyser Quad and party lights glimmered through the trees Wednesday night, the Johns Hopkins Class of 2018 celebrated its final night before commencement at a party thrown by the university and welcoming the friends and families of the soon-to-be-grads.
The annual tradition of the senior toast is a chance for the class to kick up its heels one last time on the Homewood campus. In recent years, the event has been moved indoors because of rain, but Wednesday's party—a festive bash with an open bar, refreshments, and two photo booths—transformed the green from Gilman Hall to the Milton S. Eisenhower Library into an outdoor dance club.
In a speech toasting the students delivered from the Gilman steps, Johns Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels hearkened back to the convocation speech he delivered to them four years ago when they began their Hopkins journeys.
"You may recall that at convocation, I asked you to peer into the night sky and to think about the possibilities of the universe," Daniels said. "I think about that moment and I think about where we've come from as a community because it is clear that the possibilities that we talked about have been fully realized in so many different ways by all of you during your four years here."
During the toast, senior class president Kwame Alston and class gift organizers presented Daniels with a gift of $18,500, donated by more than 700 graduating seniors who were able to earmark the funds for the office, department, or student group of their choice. According to Amanda Colaianni, who coordinates the senior class gift through the Office of Annual Giving, the majority of students dedicated their funds for future scholarships and financial aid.
"The truth is that this institution is always changing—it takes its personality, it takes its values, it takes its history from each class that comes through here, and the Class of 2018 is no exception," Daniels said. "You've left a deep imprint. You've made this place better ... . We salute you, we're proud of you, and we wish you all the best as you embark on the next stage of your quite brilliant careers."