Stephanie Cooper Commencement Address: News and Events at Sarah Lawrence College
Class of 2008, on behalf of the Sarah Lawrence College Alumnae/i Association I bring you our warm congratulations for all the good work you’ve done to reach this fine day. I take great pleasure in welcoming you to the Association—a congregation of poets, artists, scientists, lawyers, teachers, actors, doctors, sculptors, judges, mathematicians, historians and at least one physicist dancer whom I met at a Reunion not long ago.
In a matter of mere moments you will become alumnae/i; you will join the 15,558 alumnae/i of this remarkable institution, who, because of the 421 of you, will soon number 15,979.
I’m sure I needn’t remind you that you are heirs to a strong tradition of individualism, with a disinclination to join any group just for the sake of joining. Nonetheless, we individuals are a community, a community of shared values and the high ideals of the importance of questioning and learning; the importance of forming an opinion and expressing it fully and well; the importance of a deep respect for the individual and the uniqueness of each individual and at the same time the importance of community
Ironically, just when you’ve mastered belonging to the campus community, suddenly today, you are jumping out of the comfort of this lovely nest into the wider world. This is a dramatic transition, and indisputably a great new adventure. Thrilling. Daunting. Joyful. A little bittersweet.
So now it’s time for learning new skills as you move into the wider world. As President of the Alumnae/i Association, it is my hope today that along with your diplomas and your memories, you take your sense of community – and especially this community—you into your exciting future. As for skills, frankly, I would like you to become skilled alumnae/i.
How will you do that? First, please use the Alumnae/i Association as a resource—call the Career Office to find a mentor, a job, an internship; perform a mouse click and join our online community; find the calendar and attend alumnae/i events that are scheduled not only in New York City but across the country; fill out the alumnae/i magazine postcard that you will regularly receive with news of your life or just your thoughts. In your new world as graduates, think of the online community as a meeting place where you can connect and reconnect with old friends,
I’m President of the Alumnae/i Association because I have a passion for this place. It inspires passion in all of us. It has shaped who we are and who we continue to become. My own personal community, my universe of great good friends, is rich with Sarah Lawrence alumnae/i, both from my own era and from times before and after my own.
There’s an enduring attitude here that as alumnae/i we all share. As a group and as individuals, we have a lot of attitude. We recognize it when we meet fellow alums even from eras distant from our own. We regularly reconvene, and when we do, we give back—by participation in reunions, in events around the country and the world, by all kinds of contributions. In this way we not only capture the pleasure of shared memories, but we have the satisfaction of ensuring that this College, so unique throughout its history and to this very day, will endure.
So, again, I bring you the warmest congratulations from all the alumnae/i whose ranks you now join; I bring you our deepest wishes for your continued growth and transformation, for your satisfaction, for your success, however you wish to define it. We wish you great adventures. We know that you will keep the College with you wherever you go and that you will stay connected in word, in deed and in your sense that young as this place is, it is a potent legacy for all of us. Happy, happy graduation to you all!