First Dinner Recreation Speech – Paddy Ryan

I ask you all to reflect on your first steps into college, unpacking your belongings and setting up your rooms, recall the blend of nervous anticipation and exhilaration. Hilda’s was a leap into a new world, surrounded by unfamiliar faces yet brimming with the potential for meaningful connections and unforgettable experiences.

From those initial moments to the first high table dinners, from navigating university classes with newfound friends to forging bonds over conversations at local pubs, the journey at St. Hilda’s is a tapestry woven with shared moments throughout all generations and greatly cherished memories. Each experience within these grounds has contributed to the unique fabric of the college life.

Last year, during my exchange in North Carolina, I had the privilege of meeting Susan, one of the founding students, and her husband Vikram. Their passion and deep connection to St. Hilda’s underscored the profound impact this institution has had not only on Susan but also on her broader community. I expect that everyone’s Hilda’s experience is nothing short of Susan’s.

In meeting Susan and other founding students, as well as being among you tonight, I am reminded of the bigger picture. Our individual experiences, though fleeting, contribute to the rich tapestry of St. Hilda’s legacy. I hope that as you look back on your time here, you reminisce about the unparalleled connections, the sense of community, the shared meals, late-night conversations, and the countless stories that continue to echo within these very walls.

Notably Susan’s love and generosity for the college has manifested in numerous scholarships as well, including the one I am grateful to receive this year. Along with other doners who are here today, I want to reiterate the profound impact your love for the college has on current individuals and the Hilda’s community as a whole, and we all thankyou for that.

Personally, I initially approached college with hesitance and uncertainty about my path. I was unsure within the academic environment, and hesitant to decide my major within my Bachelor of Science. While still social, I lacked the understanding of how precious close friendships are in not only your own personal development, but also for the general betterment of a community. However, over time, I discovered the rare opportunity that St. Hilda’s offers. It is not just a place of academic pursuit but a crucible for forging genuine connections and discovering one’s purpose. Standing before you now as the president and a third-year student passionate within my neuroscience field and also spirited in making sure that St Hilda’s is a welcoming, warm college, I am a testament to the transformative power of this environment. And I assure you, if you were to hear the stories of students now parted from St Hilda’s, they to, would not be the same person they originally were when they first started here.

As we reminisce about our own journey at St. Hilda’s, let us also look forward and extend our support and encouragement to the future generations of students who will live here.

Hilda’s has been a flourishing college for the past 60 years, and looking forward, there is clearly a bright future. I am sure you are as excited as I am.

Each of us carries within us stories of transformation and growth catalysed by our time at St. Hilda’s. It remains a beacon of possibility and a testament to the enduring spirit of community.

In closing, I extend a heartfelt thank you. As you depart from these grounds tonight, may you carry with you a sense of pride, joy, and gratitude. You, the pioneers of this loving and extraordinary community, have sown the seeds of St. Hilda’s greatness. Your contributions, both past and present, have cultivated it into the gem it is today. You should be immensely proud. Thank you.