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
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
I look forward to
beginning this journey with you.