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Student Commencement Speech by Yamini Jha '07
Thank you Jacqueline, it is an honor and privilege to speak on behalf of the class of 2007.
Four – what at times seem long – years ago, we arrived on the grounds of Wellesley College, bright-eyed, enthusiastic and full of energy as we geared up to make our mark on this campus as independent, free thinking, Wellesley Women Who Will. Today, we prepare to leave this home of the past four years, no less bright-eyed or enthusiastic, (perhaps with a little less energy) – but with limitless ambitions, a strong academic background, and a slew of friends and supporters, sisters and faculty, alike. Today we become Wellesley Women Who Do.
I came to Wellesley as the younger sister of a proud alumna; I had heard her stories and reveled in her experiences. While her advice on the best snacks at Schneider or the best places to study may have proved outdated: one thing she told me remains with me even today – she said, “Wellesley is where you will receive unconditional support, resources and inspiration to discover who it is you want to be; whoever that may be.” Not “what,” but “who.”
We were greeted with high expectations, nicknamed “The Golden Class” – with those same expectations following us the entirety of time here. We arrived as a diverse group, and as we prepare to leave, remain as such. We are economics, chemistry, peace and justice, studio art majors: but regardless of which of the many routes we took to defining ourselves, our position on this campus, and ultimately our role in the world at large, we all made it here today to celebrate our wide-ranging achievements together. As one class, with one dream: to take what we have learned during our time here, and share the lessons with those less fortunate. Eleanor Roosevelt put it best when she said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." In an ever-changing world, with issues polarizing nations and college campuses alike – we utilized our differences to strengthen our arguments, fortify our convictions and demand an environment where open discourse is not feared nor superfluous, but rather essential to our personal and communal growth.
We have indeed faced our share of hardships, both small and large. It has not always been easy nor have we always been as organized as we no appear to be. In many ways, we were the class of firsts. We entered as the college was re-evaluating the grading system, and spent hours speculating on the floors of our first-year rooms how such a change would affect us come graduation – questioning, “Why us? Why now?” We welcomed the opening of the new campus center, yet at times yearned for the comforts of Schneider, and continued to question. We faced the tragic loss of our own Class of 2007 sisters and found ourselves repeating such lamentations, determined to make the most of each day in their honor. It has been our desire for a Wellesley – whose purpose shall never be doubted and commitment to women’s education never undermined – that led us to challenge convention while remaining skeptical of change, and in turn foster our legacy of compassionate action from our very first day on campus.
Now, as we prepare to leave the physical boundaries of Wellesley College – we will each carry with us the lessons learned, friends mad, and confidence acquired during our time here. To the trustees, administration, faculty and staff who questioned our ideals, challenged our dreams and forced us to face our fears: there are no words to fully express our gratitude. To our elder Wellesley sisters, who have shown us what perseverance can achieve – we can only hope to live up to your example as we continue on our personal journeys. To our families and friends, who have watched us waver and stumble, yet ultimately succeed – we thank you for your untiring faith in our abilities.
I recently lost my father, who was, in fact, the foremost reason for my attending Wellesley. He often declared in a matter of fact tone that the single greatest achievement in his life was raising two Wellesley women: not merely because Wellesley would open doors to traditionally male-dominated careers, be it investment banking, politics or medical research – but because in doing so he knew that he had raised two women who would one day seek to personify our dear alma mater’s motto: not to be ministered unto but to minister.
And now, to my dear Class of 2007: as we part ways to pursue our individual ambitions, it is important that we bear in mind that while at times we may feel lost, frustrated or alone in our endeavors, each one of us will always have a golden cheering squad of committed, capable and brilliant women encouraging us from afar.
So, in answer to the recurring question of “why us?” – It is because our diverse class has the vision, power and, most of all, determination to elicit change in today’s divided world. “Why now?” – Because after four years of intense instruction, dedication to our goals and leaving our eternal mark on this campus we will forever regard as home – it is time for us to act on our inspirations outside of this "Wellesley bubble," and see to it that our communal dream is at last fulfilled. Congratulations.