Senior Presidents Commencement Address: News and Events at Sarah Lawrence College
I am so excited to be standing on this stage, speaking to you on behalf of Sarah Lawrence College’s graduating class of 2008—which is why, it is not without embarrassment that I feel I have to make somewhat of a confession to all of you. I wanted to withdraw from our dear Sarah Lawrence in our first semester of college, in Fall 2004. About mid-way through October, I came down with a bad case of what can only be termed as “fear of the unknown.” I got on a train home and wrote emails from my parent’s couch in New Jersey to my professors, explaining to them that I was overwhelmed and needed a few days to think about whether or not I even wanted to be in college. They, at this point being used to first-year freakouts, wrote back and graciously told me to take my time and not to worry—that is, with the exception of my don. My don wrote back and told me in no uncertain terms that I was to return to Sarah Lawrence immediately. She said that the necessity of my presence here was not a matter of attendance, but one of fate. As someone who dedicates a few minutes each morning to decrypting her horoscope, I do not take appeals to fate lightly. I got on a New York City-bound train, spent the remainder of the year debating Heidegger and Kant and the ‘thingly thing’ with my First-Year Studies classmates, and now I stand before you today, about to graduate with a couple hundred of my brilliant friends and acquaintances.
So, it is on behalf of them, my fellow graduates, that I would like to thank you, our beloved dons and professors, for enabling us to sit here today with the knowledge that there is very little in this life worth doing that does not constitute learning, and that will not first involve overcoming a fear of the unknown. So we thank you.
Early in the fall, while trying to encourage our class to spend an early Friday morning attending Karen Lawrence’s inauguration events, a professor of mine made a comment that stuck with me throughout these past eight months. She spoke of our responsibility as students to recognize progressive education as a dynamic entity. To not see Sarah Lawrence’s educational system as a given but as a constantly-evolving process. A process that has yet to be fully defined or realized, in which it is necessary for everyone to play an active role. I am honored to have played my role in this process as a member of the class of 2008. I could not think of a better group of people with, and from, whom to grow and learn. To say that these past four years have not been the “typical college experience” would be an understatement. As we leave here today it is important to remember why we originally chose Sarah Lawrence, why we chose to stay and what we are taking with us as we go. I want to take this opportunity of standing up to here to thank you all, genuinely, for inspiring, challenging and teaching me. I can’t wait to read the back pages of the alumni update for years to come and to discover that paths that we will follow or forge—as we move from temp jobs and unpaid internships to writing books, organizing movements, pushing artistic boundaries or whatever else you all come up with. Right now, though, I want to take a break from talking about the past or the future and stay in this moment: our graduation. You've all worked so hard and we have each accomplished so much. Thank you, and congratulations!