With the end of the 2013-2014 academic year fast approaching, this month is all about our graduating Stanford seniors.

On April 23 the senior class put on the second annual Senior Arts Gala in Bing Concert Hall. This new Stanford tradition is a great occasion. The students get a chance to celebrate their time at Stanford, take a step into the next phase of their lives (with a very sophisticated cocktail party)—and enjoy the remarkable talents of their classmates in the magnificent space at Bing. Over 700 seniors enjoyed 11 musical performances on Bing mainstage and 11 visual artworks exhibited in the Gunn Atrium. Annie Sherman’s rendition of Laurie’s Song by Aaron Copland captured what it means to graduate: “Now the time has grown so short; the world has grown so wide. I’ll be graduated soon. Why am I strange inside?” It was a moving, bittersweet performance – and part of a wonderful and vibrant evening. A great way to launch into the wide world.

The Bing gala is just one of many new arts opportunities for Stanford seniors. In The Senior Reflection (TSR) program, senior David Nguyen has touched many with his capstone project. Inspired by his younger brother with autism and his work as president of Kids with Dreams, Nguyen is editing, writing, and co-designing the inaugural issue of “Project A”, a magazine for youth with autism. In its 4th year, TSR includes 22 students in the life sciences, who incorporate the arts into a capstone project of their choosing. This provides students with the ability to view their studies from an entirely new perspective – to envision a completely unique idea and bring it to fruition.

Building on the success of The Senior Reflection, the Stanford Arts Institute’s Honors in the Arts Program is a campus-wide opportunity for students in any field to apply to pursue an interdisciplinary capstone project that brings together their major with an area of arts practice or research. Upon successful completion of the project, the student will receive university Honors. This year’s students are exhibiting great resourcefulness and creativity in the execution of their projects. For her Honors in the Arts Project, Maia Kazin, B.A. Anthropology, Minor in Theater in Performance Studies, wrote and directed a play inspired by her anthropological work in Cape Town. Her piece – entitled Elephantwill premiere at The Nitery May 1-3 at 8pm.

These students—and many more—are engaging in the arts in new ways on Stanford’s campus. They join the majors and minors in all of the arts departments and programs at Stanford in taking advantage of new resources and opportunities for creative expression. As they graduate and go out into the world, our seniors will be taking these artistic experiences with them into whatever career they choose to pursue. Congratulations, seniors! We wish you all the very best.