Student Commencement Speech

Sunday, May 25, 2003 - 12:00

Today, who am I?
I am a splendid dancer. I am a talented and gifted athlete. I am a meticulous scientist and a distinguished writer. I am an intense historian, mathematician, and an actress. I have been called an engaging linguist, a spirited musician, and eloquent speaker. My voice is powerful, my visions are comprehensible, and my determination and drive could give the Energizer bunny a run for his money.

Today, who am I?
I am intelligent, creative, and compassionate. I am an outspoken leader and devoted supporter. I am bold, dynamic, and beautiful in more ways than you think you know. Don't get me wrong, I do have other characteristics that are best not mentioned on such a happy day, but do come out on let's say, not such happy days.

Today, who am I?
I am your mother, your daughter, your sister, your niece, your aunt, and your friend.

Have you guessed who I am? I am not simply one woman. I am not the young woman sitting in a gown to your left or your right. I embody more characteristics and qualities than one person could think of on their own.

Today, who am I?
I am a soon to be Mount Holyoke College graduate in the class of 2003.

Can you feel the energy? Can you feel the excitement? Can you feel the nervousness mixed with a little happiness and a sprinkle of disbelief?

As we look at each other, one thing is for sure. We made it! So celebrate, smile, laugh, shout, and dance or you could just be quiet and reflect or pray. Everyone has their own way of celebrating. Today I encourage you to celebrate in your own way because just a few years ago, this day had been a goal, a vision, and a dream and ladies, we have successfully reached it. Faculty, Staff, family and friends… we have all reached this goal together.

When I told one of my good friends who had graduated last year that I was going to submit a commencement speech, she sarcastically replied, Whatever you do, do not make it a 'spread your wings and fly' speech.' I laughed, but listened to her and knew that I had to write something that I wanted to hear and that everyone could relate to despite their cultural, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, age, or socio-economic backgrounds. So, today, class of 2003, I will not tell you to spread your wings and fly, for we have conquered that by our very presence here today. Instead, I will encourage you to be conscious in this moment and take the time to reflect and understand that where you are today is not where you will be tomorrow.

When I think about this glorious day and the experiences that we have endured as undergraduate students at Mount Holyoke College, when I contemplate where we have been, where we are and where we will be going, I think of two things: time and growth.

Within our time at Mount Holyoke College, we have experienced a personal as well as collective sense of growth. Each of us has undergone personal growth on spiritual, mental, physical, and intellectual levels. On a personal level, we have all had to endure challenges, whether they were in the classroom, at work, on the playing field, in the studio, in the lab, or as we studied abroad. We have faced challenges within our friendships, within our families, and within ourselves.

However, we have not only faced challenges. Ladies, we have also been exceptional, triumphant, and masterful in numerous accomplishments that we have achieved at Mount Holyoke College. At one point in our undergraduate careers at MHC, we have achieved greatness whether it be in planning an event, taking on leadership roles, or in procrastinating for an extensive period of time only to find that we had to then stay up to finish that paper, create that website or plan that presentation for the next day. We have achieved greatness… just in looking good on those Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Those late night weekend study sessions. Ladies, we have achieved greatness in solving problems, giving noble advice, and in standing up to support or fight for a cause.

Throughout our time here, we have grown on a collective level. As a class we have heard about, read about and lived through the Plan for 2003. As a class we have lived through the horrific event of September 11th. As a class, we have lived through a war. As a class we have lived, worked, and learned in a global community. Many of us have been involved in or attended a traditional Mount Holyoke event whether it be Mountain Day, elfing, or the Laurel Parade… just to name a few. We have shared in a collective experience because if I ask anyone in the class of 2003 what the C.D.C., M&C's, grab and go, the Lib or Thirsty are, more times than not, someone can tell me. We have grown collectively because we have learned in the Mount Holyoke College community about the world around us and have taken advantage of the opportunities that were offered to us. We have grown through the dedication, blessings, and skills that we have given to the MHC community. We have also experienced professors, faculty and staff who have come into our lives as well as have left our lives, but nonetheless have touched our lives.

Graduates, as you sit here and wait to receive your diplomas, I encourage you to ask yourself, "Who am I?" and "What experiences have I endured to get me to where I am today?" Use the answer you come up with to guide you to where and who you want to be tomorrow. Some of us know what we will be doing post graduation. For some of us our plans are still in the process.

No matter what the future holds, please keep in mind that we have all completed a journey and as soon as we depart from the gates of Mount Holyoke College, we will begin a new journey as alumnae. Know that we are privileged and blessed to be here. I thank God, my Mom and Dad, my family, friends, faculty, and staff for walking, praying, and loving me through my journey. When you get the chance thank whoever stood by you through your journey. On your journey as a new Mount Holyoke College alum you will continue to have experiences that will define who you are, for time guarantees continuous experiences and growth. On your journey things will not happen when you want them to or how you want them to happen. On your journey you will affect people's lives and may not ever see it. Without a doubt, where you are now is not where you will be in the future.

Graduates, alumnae, family, friends, faculty, and staff, at this point I ask for your active participation. I invite you to join me in this celebration as we raise the roof!

Thank You.