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Convocation 2005 Address

Katherine L. Kraschel '06, President, Student Government Association

  Katherine Kraschel
Katherine L. Kraschel '06 (photo by Fred LeBlanc)

September 7, 2005

Good morning Mount Holyoke – President Creighton, Dean O'Shea, faculty, staff, students, and members of the Mount Holyoke community. It's wonderful to see us all together.

As student body president I welcomed the class of 2009 on Sunday. To the firsties, good to see you've made it through most of orientation. The words I shared on Sunday were modest one might say. There were no shameless shout-outs to any organizations or groups I'm personally affiliated with. You know, like the soccer team, SGA, the biochemistry department or – what's the other very large, red-wearing group I'm part of? Oh, the class of 2006!

As I was saying, my speech did not include any shameless personal shout-outs, but it did include a bit of bragging. I spoke highly of the administration, tried to convey the warmth and dedication of our staff, and I believe I called the faculty "dynamic and engaging." Unfortunately, I didn't mention what a great sense of humor the faculty has, and I spared Dean O'Shea the embarrassment of mentioning anything about any boy bands he has performed with. Of course, I'm sure they [the first-years] will learn about these sorts of hidden talents soon enough as it is a year for faculty show, one of many great traditions we haven't forgotten about and are all eagerly anticipating as we begin the academic year. At any rate, I trust that my bragging won't be in vain, and, in the next nine months, the faculty will continue to challenge and entertain us and each other; the administration will continue to listen and work with students and the SGA; and the staff will continue to greet us warmly – even the fifth time we need our One Cards replaced.

But what I spent most of my time boasting about were the students of Mount Holyoke. I didn't boast about how many organizations we're all involved in, any sort of GPA, graduate, medical, or law school statistics. I didn't even emphasize how good looking we all are or how hard we work and the hours we spend in the lab and library. What I bragged about most was what our student body has innately woven into its fabric – our diversity. We come from different cities, states, countries, and continents, different religious backgrounds, races, and sexual orientations, different perspectives, right here, on this beautiful campus today – it's inspiring.

My challenge for all of us this year is to take advantage of the opportunities presented by being part of such a powerful community. I asked the class of 2009 to "leap" out of their comfort zone. Upperclasswomen, it is our job to lead by example. We all need to take personal responsibility to ensure the strength of our community. Attend events held by cultural organizations and those affiliated with heritage months. Don't avoid your classmates with different political viewpoints, challenge yourself to understand the argument they're making, rebuild some of the community lost along with dining hall closings by joining your dorm's athletic teams as part of the new residence-hall-based intramural program. Increase our sense of school pride by supporting athletics. Come to our games to better understand why one of SGA's goals is to improve the quality of many of our athletic facilities. And, finally, be a constructively active agent for change if there's something you think needs to improve about Mount Holyoke. Utilize your strong Student Government Association; we're listening. Talk to your hall senators, talk to your organization senators, join a committee, or become a senator yourself. In pushing ourselves to stop complaining and start acting and to branch away from habit and routine, we can each hold ourselves personally responsible for enhancing our amazing institution.

Don't get me wrong, this summer I had the opportunity to socialize with men and women from different colleges across the country while completing an internship. This made me realize more than ever that I am proud to be part of Mount Holyoke's community – a community that, despite our own constant critique and analysis, is indescribably strong. Have you ever heard someone outside of Mount Holyoke talk about a member of the dining staff who knows to put on two chocolate chip pancakes as soon as she sees one of her student workers saunter in wearing her slippers each morning? Have you ever seen alums as happy and excited as ours when meeting a current Mount Holyoke student? Have you heard someone outside of Mount Holyoke talk about their professor who took West African dance with them or has taken daylong trips to assist a student in pursuing research that has nothing to do with their own field of expertise? We have all of this, and I haven't mentioned or tried to describe the bond between Mount Holyoke women who, in our brief years here, create indestructible connections that last decades beyond convocation or graduation.

But part of what makes our community, our home, so powerful is our constant critique and analysis, our refusal to become complacent. I am happy to know we never settle on anything at Mount Holyoke, from planning to plan to plan, to 21-hour dorm access, or loooong faculty debate over distribution requirements; we are perpetually improving an already outstanding institution.

As we begin another year together, I remind us that we each mold and form our community. Each day, live and act to shape the Mount Holyoke you envision. Thank you for gathering together today to celebrate the 2005–2006 academic year. Work hard, play hard, and enjoy those chocolate chip pancakes.

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Copyright © 2006 Mount Holyoke College. This page created and maintained by Office of Communications. Last modified on June 13, 2006.