2008 Commencement

Baccalaureate Address
Alexandra Toomey '08
May 24, 2008

A lot can happen in four years. Between 1896 and 1900, Mount Holyoke Female Seminary burned to the ground, and was rebuilt as a college. Between 1914 and 1918, the First World War was fought. Every four years, a new presidential term begins and ends. During the last four years, many of us voted for the first time. The Red Sox won the World Series--twice. There have been both natural and manmade disasters. And we--the class of 2008--came to Mount Holyoke College. We came in search of an education. We came in search of a type of camaraderie achievable only through a belief in sisterhood--and through many long nights commiserating in the library. We came here with something to say. We came with our own voices and stories, and a hunger for something greater than ourselves.

We're moving forward all the time. Today is about celebrating the past and looking toward the future. We have seen our beautiful campus transform through quiet summers, colorful autumns, endless winters, and hopeful springs. We too have transformed through our years here. Every exam, every paper, every debate, every game, and every single adventure has helped us forge our own identities. Along the way, Mount Holyoke has imprinted itself on our thoughts, our minds, and our hearts.

For the past four years, we have been taught to question the world, but to trust ourselves. We have been taught to say what we mean, and to mean what we say, and we have been taught to really listen. I have no doubt that my years at Mount Holyoke have left me forever changed. It was within these walls that I made my closest friends, found my truest passions, and laughed my deepest belly laughs. It was here that I found who I want to be, and found women who stood for the things I stand for. Women who not only want to make a difference, but who will make a difference. Women who are not afraid to question those around them or to think for themselves. I am so grateful to have been challenged daily, and I thank all of you for that. It is because of you that I have learned how to succeed--even when the path to success is marred by failure.

My love for this institution runs deep, and it pleases me to think I am not alone in that sentiment. We all have different reasons for coming here, and for staying here, and it is my belief that whatever your reasons, they somehow connect you to me. This is the one-hundred-and-seventy-first time students have gathered here to celebrate the completion of their collegiate education, and their commitment to better the world. We are a part of this history, of this great legacy. We have laughed, cried, celebrated, and mourned together. We have grown up together, and today, we will leave here together.

Today marks a great achievement. We may no longer be undergraduates, but among us are writers, scientists, actors, journalists, dancers, politicians, historians, artists, philosophers, and so much more. So what happens now? What's next for 2008? What will we do? Where will we go? What will we create, talk about, write about, sing about? Only time will tell that story, but I can promise you this: it will be an exciting one.

We are all sitting here today because we have proven ourselves. We have proven that we are ready to take on the world, and look good doing it. Congratulations.

Related Links:

Class of 2008 Baccalaureate Service

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2008 Commencement Home Page