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Sara Curtin's Commencement Address

Sara Rose Curtin '02 was selected by the Class of 2002 to deliver the address at its commencement on May 26. Here is her speech.

We have earned these caps and gowns.

When we arrived on campus our first year, we were all a bit intimidated by the four years of rigorous academics that lay before us. Over the years we have worked and fought our way through dozens of academic courses. Through the support, guidance, and friendship of some amazing professors, we ceased to be intimidated by the intellectual challenge, learning instead to leap in and attack it. Mount Holyoke College has taught us the value of hard work, the wonder of scientific discovery, the meaning of a well-structured sentence, and the caffeine-charged thrill of writing a research paper at 4am.

Now here we are at our commencement ceremony.

The hard work has paid off.

But maybe even more valuable than any curriculum is what our time at Mount Holyoke has allowed us to learn about ourselves and from each other outside the classroom. For four years, we have been nourished by the beauty of our surroundings and enriched by the education of our interactions with each other.

So let's reflect, in our last act as undergraduates, on the not-so-scholarly aspects of Mount Holyoke.

This campus is gorgeous. I've experienced four Septembers and Octobers of spectacular reds, oranges, and yellows as the trees around us ignited and showered the campus with fall. I've plucked bright red autumn ivy from the aged brick of the Mandelles. I've reluctantly opened the front door of Brigham to the bitter cold of winter, only to be captivated by the dazzling sparkle of hundred-year-old buildings coated in snow and ice. I've stood outside the library with a firstie from India and rediscovered the beauty of a snowflake through the eyes of someone who had never seen one before. I've stood on the sidewalk next to Mary Lyon, eyes skyward, amidst the swirling yellow-green energy of Mount Holyoke springs. And stopping to explore the tiny buds and leaves awakening in the ground around Blanchard has forced rehearsals and meetings to wait. We are lucky to have lived on a campus so rich with history and so alive with the seasons.

Chance brought us to Mount Holyoke. We come from different countries. We all have different backgrounds, and many of us are at different points in our lives. These differences have greatly fostered academic inquiry. They have complicated and enlivened our discussions and our daily experiences. They have helped us all to grow in ways we could never have predicted. Our interactions with one another have taught us who we are and who we wish to become.

I strongly believe that M&C's existed not to pry us from our books and satisfy our cravings for munchies, but to pry us from our books and gather us together. M&C's were our excuse to see each other when we should have been studying. We met our friends in the dining hall at 9:30, mugs in hand, and then so often stayed there long after the cookies were gone and the kitchen was locked, discussing politics, sexuality, -isms and phobias, and forgetting about the work we'd left upstairs.

We had amazing, life-changing conversations with complete strangers in the computer rooms. We watched friends struggle through difficult breakups and learned true compassion when we found ourselves struggling beside them. And we have watched friends find love again. Together we discovered that growing up often meant clashing with our parents because we knew we needed them but weren't sure how or when. We were each other's justifiable excuses for skipping classes. We comforted each other when grad schools sent rejection letters and job offers fell through. Those of us who were daring enough gathered all our friends and all our courage and ran wildly, nakedly across the Green. Somewhere between games of "Truth" on the PVTA, emails across continents, and cup after cup of watery hot chocolate, we came to love each other.

Through the labor of self-discovery, we learned the value of supporting one another, of listening instead of always speaking, of standing up for ourselves and others, of seeing each glitch in our path as an opportunity for a new beginning. Along the way we became women together, every one of us a strong, unique, and empowered individual.

We're about to surrender ownership of our P.O. boxes, and in a few hours we will close the doors to our dorm rooms for the last time. But regardless of where we go when we leave campus in the next couple of days we can take comfort in the fact that we will always be alumnae of this great school. It's time for us to move forward, to be nudged out into the world so that we might discover ourselves again. Just as when we first came here, we must trust ourselves and step into the unknown. It is with some apprehension that we leave college to begin a new "first-year," but it is also with great anticipation and excitement.

Let us commence with the confidence that we are prepared intellectually and emotionally for what lies ahead. We can leave Mount Holyoke College with the certainty that no matter where we go or what we face, we go there and face it together.

Chance brought us all to Mount Holyoke to share the experience that was college. And now chance sends us in different directions, pulling us to every part of the globe. In the coming years, though we may not be just a short walk down the hall from each other, we will still always be connected by the common experience, friendship and love we share.

I look forward to beginning this journey with you.

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Copyright © 2005 Mount Holyoke College. This page created and maintained by Office of Communications. Last modified on March 17, 2005.

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