September 6, 2011
Good afternoon, fellow classmates, distinguished professors, wonderful staff, and of course, the family and friends of Mount Holyoke. It warms my heart to be back and see all the familiar faces and the new faces on campus. It seems only natural to recognize the different groups of students represented here today. So without further ado, let’s give a big round of applause for the class of 2015! Welcome – you are in for one spectacular ride. Parents, it’s probably the smartest investment you are making, even if your wallet is getting a little thin, sending your child to Mount Holyoke. And now, let’s give a big round of applause for the class of 2014! And my very own class, class of 2013! And now, we cannot forget this group sitting in front of me, representing their blue class color--class of 2012! Welcome back, seniors! With the three years of laughing and crying at this institution, you still have a year left (though I don’t know whether you are crying or laughing about that). And of course, 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 next group of 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!
Today, I would like to talk about change, as I, my family, Mount Holyoke, the world went through many changes during summer and always will. I am sure there were many changes in your lives during summer – some that were celebrated and some that weren’t pleasant, to say the least. At Mount Holyoke, we saw many changes in administration this summer, we can see that the main gate is now one way, and now we should all change the name Public Safety in our phonebook to Campus Police. Nationally, we saw the change made in New York this summer – same-sex marriage became legal, recognized by the state on July 24, under the Marriage Equality Act. Internationally, North Korea changed its mind and decided to regroup and give the Six Party talk another try “without preconditions.” Within my household, my mother’s decision to get a haircut was probably the single most awful change she decided to make during summer. I found myself changed, as I didn’t complain about her haircut every time I saw her. But no matter how disappointing, regretful, and in my mother’s case, upsetting, the change, change can be seen in a positive light. My mother, for example, will never get the same haircut. But she was happy that she finally tried the new hip haircut – she took the new road that she always had wanted to take, and left a little mark to remind herself not to take that road again, at least not any time soon.
With the annual monsoon season in Korea this summer, I was determined that change was usually bad and that good changes were rare. As I came to terms with myself, and the gloomy weather, I recognized all the changes happening in our lives on a daily basis, and decided that change is a very natural phenomenon. Without change in our lives, what new goal, event, and knowledge can we look forward to? Without the many changes we wish to see in our lives, what gets us all out of bed in the morning? So I would like to invite all of you to embrace the changes to come and even maybe try giving a little change in your life, even if it is just a one-time thing. Now, I am not telling you all to rush and go change your whole fall semester schedule, though you can, but rather things that you always wished were different in your lifestyle or would like to experience in your life such as night owls becoming early birds and vice versa, listening to a different type of music, sleeping on the other side of your bed, showering at night instead of the morning, and even calling your parents once in a while. You might love the new and make it a permanent change or you might hate it and never do it again. No matter the outcome, the fact that you planned and accepted the fact that there will be a change in your daily routine, and followed through with your plan, is something.
I would like to conclude by further reminding you that we would have not been united as Mount Holyoke students had Mary Lyon not wanted to see a change in society, wanting women to receive higher education as well as men. As you probably realized through the summer reading, women’s education is so important in all aspects. However, not many women of our age in the world are given an opportunity to be in a higher-learning institution, yet alone an institution where women are at the core and women’s empowerment is a vital part of the process. We are privileged to be at an extraordinary place at such a memorable point in our life. Let us embrace the diversity and change we see in the world, and as Mahatma Gandhi once said, “be the change that you want to see in the world.”
(Note: This printed text may vary from the speech delivered.)