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2006 - All
Thoughts at Commencement
May 14, 2006
|Barbara Arnwine, executive director of Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law|
"There is nothing more powerful than an idea in its ability to capture the imagination and soul of humankind. We often reflect on ideas of freedom, individualism, equality, morality - ideas and ideals so ancient that it is hard to trace their origins. An idea when it is in bloom, in its season of power, can become the birthplace for a thousand hopes, aspirations and dreams. In the absence of ideas, humankind stumbles and is diminished. It is the power of an idea which gives birth to activism. Activism for the common good can transform the world.
"Rosa Parks embodied this principle. She sat down so a nation could stand up. Her example, that one person - a seamstress - could provoke transformative change for an entire nation has captured the souls of the oppressed worldwide. In 1989, the world was transfixed when thousands of democracy advocates stood up to troops and tanks in Tiananmen Square and proclaimed, 'I am Rosa Parks.'
"The gift of activism - of courageous, visionary and selfless giving - is the force which keeps the world in balance."
May 20, 2006
|Eve Ensler, international activist and a playwright whose works include The Vagina Monologues|
"Love jumping higher on the bounce, love going further out, love the flipping, love the entry and the flight. Love the pain when it doesn't work out. Get back on the (diving) board. Love it 'cause it's a call in your body, 'cause it's what you need to do. Love it 'cause you can think of nothing else and you won't be satisfied 'til it's done.
You don't have to wait for permission or approval. You don't have to wait for someone to pay you or even notice. You certainly don't have to wait to be rescued. This is your story. This is your adventure. This is your creation - this is your life. You don't have to wait 30 more years, like me. Now is for diving.”
May 21, 2006
|Jane Lakes Harman '66, U.S. House of Representatives, California, 36th District|
|"There are tomes and courses on leadership, but there's no rule book. There are great mentors, but the best way to begin is by looking inside. Even if it is not yet obvious to you, you have what it takes to be a leader."|
May 14, 2006
|William (Bill) Cosby, comedian, actor, author and philanthropist|
"You young women have to know it is time for you to take charge. I'm looking at you and your sisters to spread the word that it's your time. This is not time for you to be cute or to think that you are cute. It's time for you to pick up the pace and lead. Look at this world and examine the faults that you see, pick the one that you want and say 'I want that job.' I'm telling you that you can do it, and every person surrounding you this evening believes you can do it.
They want you to lead in business, they want you to lead in medicine, they want you to lead in everything. There's a mayor sitting here and how many of you out there can't see yourself running for anything? Well, you better change your mind, because it's your turn. When you step up and you pick up your diploma, it's not time for you to fool around anymore. Our race depends on you and your sisters graduating all across this United States to realize what's left: it's you."
May 6, 2006
|Wally Funk '58, first female Federal Aviation Administration inspector and an air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board|
|"You have to remember one thing. The only thing a woman needs to compete in a man's world is ability."|
Sweet Briar, VA
May 13, 2006
|Judith Martin, author and syndicated columnist known as "Miss Manners"|
"The New Woman, which my generation was so proud to create, turned out to feel guilty and cranky. The reaction, Girl Power, turned out to be a no-maintenance party girl. I ask the Class of 2006 to keep what was good about each of them - the drive, the sense of responsibility, the refusal to settle for second class treatment, and also the revival of fun and frills?and to go on to create the New Lady.
She should be independent and dignified, ambitious and well behaved, attractive and ladylike, and she should take on the task of restructuring the workplace so that both men and women are also able to have a true personal life of family, friends and philanthropy."
May 13, 2006
|The Honorable Helen Giddings, Texas House of Representatives, 109th District|
|"It has been said that you make a living by what you earn, you make a life by what you give. All of us can make a contribution, and if we cannot commit to something large, we can commit to something small.”|
May 21, 2006
|Sheila C. Johnson, entrepreneur and philanthropist|
"I want you to look inside your heart. I want you to open your mind. Then I want you to embrace what you find there. Because I promise what you will find is a staggering, almost limitless potential for greatness. Success should have enough depth and dimension to include honesty, generosity and good character.
In pursuit of success, however you define it, your connection to your own heart cannot be taken for granted. It must be believed in, it must be nurtured, and constantly consulted each time the story of your life involves a tough problem to tackle or a painful choice to make because in this life, you cannot ask for a better guide."
June 1, 2006
|Ophelia Dahl '94, executive director of Partners in Health|
"Imagination will allow you to make the link between the near of your lives with the distant others and will lead us to realize the plethora of connections between us and the rest of the world, between our lives and that of a Haitian peasant, between us and that of a homeless drug addict, between us and those living without access to clean water or vaccinations or education and this will surely lead to ways in which you can influence others and perhaps improve the world along the way.
The key is to live with an exquisite openness to the world. To not close any part and to let it all, including the suffering of others, reach you. It doesn't have to be global health or social justice or the fight against poverty, but it helps. It can be marketing, academics, law, medicine, athletics, but my wish for you is that you find your passion, your abiding interest, and dedicate yourself to achievement in that area.
The world will align around you…you will do extraordinary things. You have well placed to do anything with your lives. Whatever you choose to do with your talents and superb education, employ your imagination broadly, fight hard for the things you believe in, link the near and distant. And wear a helmet whenever possible. May this time resonate for you. May your lives resonate in others."
May 13, 2006
|Kathryn Stripling Byer '66, Poet Laureate of the State of North Carolina and author of five published collections of poetry, including Wildwood Flower, the 1992 Lamont Poetry Selection from the Academy of American Poets|
"When I was your age, I wrote a weekly column for the campus newspaper entitled Caustic Cogitations, an irreverent look at issues on the Wesleyan College campus. After one particularly critical piece, a faculty member, using a line from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, scolded me. In my later years, she wrote that I would regret 'my salad days when I was green in judgment.'
I stand here today to tell you that I do not regret my green-growing days, for, like Federico Garcia Lorca, I would declare, as he sang in his Romance Sonambulo, "Verde, que te quiero verde." Or, to quote my own lines from the poem I have written for you: 'Forty years later I've come back/to say, simply, always be ready to welcome/the green, all that's verde within you./Have the courage of your corazon,/have esperanza,/a little French insouciance.../That green wind I wanted/to follow is right here/today, on the thirteenth of May,/so cup it awhile in your fingers/ and listen: your voice/the breath of it lifting its brave cancion."