Address to Class of 2013
Congratulations graduates! Your senior year has coincided with the College’s celebration of 175 years of educating women of influence, and I have a great deal of optimism about the future knowing that you are the next generation of women leaders.
Throughout the year, I have had the opportunity to meet with alumnae and friends of the College across the country and around the world. It has been a privilege to tell your stories–the ways in which you have shaped our community through your intellectual, creative, and artistic vibrancy, how you have represented us with skill, class, and distinction in athletic competitions, and how you have lived our mission of using liberal learning for purposeful engagement in the world through your participation in Community-Based Learning, internships, student organizations and sustainability initiatives like War of the Watts, and the Think Outside the Bottle campaign.
The video that we have used to launch and celebrate Mount Hoyoke’s historic mission and the legacy of women’s leadership has a clip of one of our alumnae, Gertrude “Bobby” Walter Lerch from the class of 1931, and her granddaughter Beverly Lerch Nored FP '94. Bobby comments that, though their time at Mount Holyoke was very different and 60 years apart, they both felt like they were “coming home.”
So many of our alumnae use these same words to describe their experience of returning to Mount Holyoke. I certainly do! Like home and family, our time here and our shared traditions create memories that will last a lifetime. You will find yourself rushing to meet friends at a local ice cream parlor after work on a fall day when you get that email proclaiming that it is Mountain Day, crying unexpectedly whenever you hear “Bread and Roses,” and laughing when you attempt to explain the significance of the revelry around Dis-O, elfing, and Pangy Day to a friend who wasn’t fortunate enough to come to Mount Holyoke and who wonders what kind of bizarre intellectual cult you fell into during your college years. Down the road, you will find yourself writing an email to a professor or staff member, thanking him or her for the extraordinary preparation you have received, for the rigor of the courses taught, and for continuing to be there as a mentor. And you will come to understand, if you don’t already, the wisdom of what one of your Mount Holyoke sisters, Suzan-Lori Parks, has said, that “instead of waiting for the perfect opportunity, [you] should work toward the realization that every opportunity is perfect."
That’s what Bobby Lerch was talking about–that “whatever it is” that makes our community so special. We have a bond that traverses both time and place, spanning generations of Mount Holyoke students around the globe for a lifetime. It is a bond that you have helped forge. You are truly amazing, and I am so very proud of each and every one of you!