Good morning, President Pasquerella, distinguished professors, wonderful staff, fellow classmates, and of course, the family and friends of Mount Holyoke. My name is So Jin Lee, and I am honored to stand before you as your Student Government Association President for the academic year.
It warms my heart to be back and see all the familiar and new faces on campus. It only seems natural to recognize the different groups of students represented here today. Without further ado, let’s give a big round of applause for the class of 2016! Welcome; you are in for one spectacular ride. Welcome back, class of 2015! A big round of applause for the class of 2014! And of course, my very own class, class of 2013! Welcome back, seniors! Let’s show the Mount Holyoke community our green griffin spirit throughout the year! And as Mount Holyoke would not be the same without the next group of students on campus, let’s give a big round of applause for our Frances Perkins students! And though the these students may have been recognized by their class year, I would like to invite everyone to give a big welcome to all the transfer students, foreign exchange students, and foreign fellows. Mount Holyoke, I love your spirit, energy, and even more so your creative outfits that continuously get better and better each year.
I don’t know about you, but I know personally that it will be difficult trying to get back into study mode after enjoying the summer sun for four months and doing some major London Olympics “groupie” work on the sideline. What had me so hooked on the Olympics all summer was its similarities to Mount Holyoke. When I saw the spirited, cheerful crowds and the sense of community the Olympic Games brought out in everyone, it reminded me of South Hadley, Mount Holyoke, Jorge on Lower Lake, and our teams on the athletic fields and in the barn. The Olympic athletes’ spirits, calling for giving one’s best, striving for personal excellence and satisfaction, are the clear result of four years of constant practice, effort, and diligence–with lots of help and encouragement from their mentors and peers along the way. Sounds a lot like our four years at Mount Holyoke, huh?
This healthy life filled with self-development, friends, and mentors can easily be transcribed to many undergraduate students’ lives at various institutions. However, I know Mount Holyoke offers additional benefits–an atmosphere where we are encouraged to become global citizens and a community that enables us to make our own decisions and practice self-governance. I am not just talking about our Student Government Association, which you should all check out anyway, but also the act of participating in our privileged tradition of the Honor Code, being held accountable by yourself and your peers, respecting others, and taking on leadership positions and roles in your class, your organization, your team, and everywhere else on campus.
Now, I could continue to describe and explain the sense of community, accountability, diversity, academic excellence, sportsmanship, and everything else spectacular that Mount Holyoke has to offer–but you are probably reminded of these very things at least once every week or even every day. I’m sure each time your mind probably becomes overwhelmed with all of these aspects of your journey here at this special institution. Students, at least we have it the shortest for four years; staff, it’s really up to however long you want to deal with us, and professors, well, you are all really here forever. But no matter how crazy, hectic, and intertwined our lives will become over the course of the year, I look forward to running into all of you, meeting you in person, and venting together–because I know that there is this special dynamic force that pulls us together and keeps us going through this Mount Holyoke journey. And of course, with good friends, a journey is never too long.
So enjoy your journey here–because it actually never ends.