President Pasquerella, members of the Board of Trustees, faculty and staff of Mount Holyoke College, parents, families, and graduates of the class of 2011:
It is a great honor to be with you this morning at the graduation ceremony for the class of 2011. Dr. Pasquerella, I thank you and the College sincerely for the honor that has been given to me. I must confess that to be chosen to receive an honorary degree from Mount Holyoke was the largest surprise of my life.
Class of 2011, Mount Holyoke women are skilled at turning their ideas into reality. We have thousands of examples of this ability that range from Mary Lyon’s idea to found Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in 1837 to the work of Mount Holyoke’s President, Dr. Lynn Pasquerella, in the application of ethical systems today. In the same manner as these leaders, Mount Holyoke women from 1837 to today have developed their ideas for improving the world into plans, and turned those plans into action.
I offer my sincerest congratulations to you in the class of 2011 who have already identified the contribution that you, as Mount Holyoke graduates, will make to the world. I wish you the best possible success in reaching and even exceeding your present goals. The world needs your vision, intellect, and dedication. May you have great success in the fields you have chosen.
I also offer my sincerest congratulations to another group of graduates. I speak to those of you who were like me as a student; to you who at times had doubts you would succeed at Mount Holyoke; to you who are happy to have made it to this place on this day. I speak especially to you who have not yet become aware of your dreams, your capabilities, or your practical contributions to the world. That will change.
When your ideas and plans present themselves as imperatives, the strength that four years at Mount Holyoke has quietly given you will be there to assist you to accomplish what you must do. Your sound judgment, your ability to communicate, and your endurance despite difficulty will emerge with vigor. You will follow in the tradition of 174 years of Mount Holyoke women in working for the betterment of the world and all its inhabitants. My vision for you is to turn your ideas into yet-unknown reality, using the skills and attitudes you have developed during your years here at Mount Holyoke. You may spend years in preparation and you may not identify your dream during your youth, but it will surely happen. Then you will call upon the strength and creative genius that reside in you and all Mount Holyoke women to achieve that which you must accomplish.
Again, I offer my sincerest congratulations to all of you, the graduates of the class of 2011 at Mount Holyoke College.
(Note: This printed text may vary from the speech delivered.)