2008 Commencement

Commencement Address
Sally Brzozowski '08
May 25, 2008

Attention, Mount Holyoke Students:
Today is not Mountain Day.

That's right. This is not the time to sleep late, to ignore your schoolwork, to cast cares to the wind, and lace up your sneakers. It's not that one sunny day in September when we're awakened by pealing bells that announce a special holiday, campuswide, that day off from classes where the tradition is to head to the hills and eat ice cream at the summit of Mount Holyoke, or spend your day in some other nonacademic manner.

No, today is that day before Mountain Day. Today is the day not to use your feet, but to use your imagination. Today is the day to look ahead while also meeting your deadlines, but to allow your mind to wander toward that future day and the potential that it holds.

Will you use your Mountain Day to sleep, to catch up on all the slumber you've missed these four years because homework assignments, last-minute papers, and late-night runs to the diner were more important than going to bed? If you've used all your vacations with internships, academic projects, or partying until dawn, maybe your Mountain Day would be best spent recuperating from college.

Will you spend your day studying, forging ahead in the quest to gain more knowledge, needing to find more answers right now? Maybe it'll be a summer or a year or three before you're done with academics, but for now you're ready to continue your scholastic lifestyle and continue enjoying the hard work you've put in over the years.

Will you hike in the footsteps of the Mount Holyoke women of the past and gaze out at the same landscape from the hill that we claim as our namesake, or will you make a new adventure and start a tradition that includes a view that no one has even seen before? You're fully equipped to blaze your own trail, and now there's nothing holding you back.

Will you turn this holiday into an opportunity to celebrate, as if you needed an excuse to party, given all the work you've done to get to this point? It might be the perfect time to have one last huzzah with your friends and be daring with your choices rather than following more well-trodden paths. Just because school's out doesn't mean you have to take on life alone--bring your friends with you on this next adventure, as you see where your day takes you.

Will you try to fit all these things into your day? Sleep late, catch the last bus back from the base of the mountain, finish one final homework assignment, and then start the weekend early?

People can make recommendations, tell you about the time they hiked and had blisters for weeks or about when they slept in and felt refreshed for an entire month, but no one can tell you the perfect way to spend your Mountain Day because there isn't a right answer. There's not one that applies to every person, and not even a right answer for a single person, for you, from day to day.

Reflect on what made you happy in the past and move forward, listening to your heart and mind as you live this day. Change your mind twice or a million times, but don't stop to worry that someone might be judging your decisions. As long as you're doing what you want to do, there can be no wrong answer.

Our four years at Mount Holyoke have prepared us for greatness, they have prepared us to take on the unknown, and we have prepared ourselves to accept this challenge. Our day is coming, and we're ready for it.

Today is not Mountain Day. Today is a day to dream, to finish your homework but still stay up late, going to bed satisfied that you're ready to take on tomorrow, whether or not it's finally Mountain Day.

And it probably will be, because I see blue skies on the horizon.

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2008 Commencement Home Page