Mallika Dutt '83, Doctor of Humane Letters: Acceptance Speech

From the class of 1983 to the class of 2012, I bring salutations, greetings, and congratulations. You do me such great honor on this our 175th anniversary of the most incredible academic institution on this planet, Mount Holyoke College.

Quick disclaimer: my Twitter handle is @mallikadutt, I'm hash tagging at #mhc2012, so if you see me fiddling with my phone, I'm really paying attention.

What does one say on an occasion like this? My parents weren't here for my graduation in 1983, and they're here today all the way from India along with a whole bunch of my friends. Thank you. And I got one of my favorite professors, Joan Cocks, to hood me. You know, when they asked me, who do you want to hood you? I was like 50 Shades of Grey at Mount Holyoke? What does this mean? It's the first time I heard that term.

What I want to say to you in my remaining two minutes that I have is this: I want you to close your eyes, and I want you to feel the energy in this space. I want you to connect to your own heartbeat. I want you to connect it to the heartbeat of the person next to you and to of all of your sisters who are graduating with you. I want you to radiate it out and connect to the 35,000 Mount Holyoke sisters around the world who are your family and who will always have your back. I want you to understand the enormous power that you have. Another way of thinking about it is - never underestimate the power of a Mount Holyoke woman.

You walk into a world that is full of challenges. Never before have we needed the kind of compassion, wisdom, vision, and brilliance that this space inculcates in us. It is no longer a time when we fight for equal rights. It is no longer a time when we try to just keep abortion legal in this country. It is no longer a time when we just worry about equal pay for equal work. It is a time when instead of trying to sit at the table or sit at the head of the table, that you actually transform the table. It is a big challenge, but I know that with the sisterhood of the 35,000 amongst us, that we will rise up to it.

May the Mount Holyoke spirit, the MOHO force always be with you.