Student Speech

Student Commencement Speech by Christine L. Dobridge '02

Welcome! I'd like to welcome faculty, staff and administration! Welcome family and friends! And welcome Class of 2002! I am proud and honored to call myself your classmate.

The Wellesley Class of 2002. We are 603 women from across the country and around the globe. We are 603 women of varying backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, political affiliations and academic interests. We are musicians and mathematicians, athletes and artists, dancers and debaters, poets and politicians. We are biologists, economists, geologists, anthropologists and historians. We are 603 unique individuals, but after today, we will share one special thing for the rest of our lives:

We're Wellesley grads.

Those words mean something in the world. Those words make people listen. Those words connote intelligence, determination, thoughtfulness and caring. And those words mean something because of the incredible women who came before us-the incredible women who walked the halls we walked, and ate where we ate, and sat where you are all sitting on a similar day years ago.

We talk a lot about our past at this school. We talk about 126 years of "Women On Top" and 126 years of "Women Who Will." We drop the names of famous alums in conversation with almost alarming familiarity. We talk about Madeline and Hillary, Nora and Cokie, Diane and Lynn. We have a long, proud past. But I'm not interested in talking about the past today. I'm interested in talking about the future, our future. Because that's what today is about-it's not about all those women who came before-today is about us. Today is a celebration of our accomplishments and our triumphs. We are incredible women.

As high-school students we came to campus unsure of what this Wellesley was all about. As first years, we boarded that Senate bus and traveled around Boston in groups of 15-20. We sat around at the dinner table and bonded over things like: "You're from Minnesota? I've been to Minnesota!" We ate ice cream for breakfast and marveled at the ingenuity of frying ravioli, mushrooms and tofu-sometimes all together in the same dish. We joined eight new organizations. We walked around the lake for the first time. In conversation, we started to refer to Wellesley as "home."

Sophomore year, we laughed at the first years. We pulled our first all-nighters. We got internships. We picked majors. Junior year, we changed our majors. We met: Ross. Some of us studied abroad. Some of us didn't. Senior year, we ran the organizations. We wish we could have run everything. We wrote theses. We finished up distribution requirements. We made career decisions. We made decisions not to make career decisions. We picked our last classes, rolled our hoops and started saying our good-byes.

A lot of things are going to change for us in the near future. Eight-thirty is not early. Pajama bottoms will no longer be acceptable daily attire and neither will tube tops. You won't ever have to sit through another all house to vote on how many alternating bathrooms to have on your floor or another house council to vote on how many types of potatoes to have at community dinner. And you'll never, never have to eat calico skillet or carrot loaf again.

Tomorrow, we're leaving Wellesley to go out into the world. Do you remember what it was like-the world? I sure don't. I think that we all had to reevaluate our priorities and carefully consider our place in society this year. We thought hard and asked ourselves that timeless question, the question plaguing the hearts and minds of every graduating senior: "What the hell are we supposed to do now?" We were excited, and a little terrified, to realize that the answer to that question is: anything we want.

Wellesley has tried to guide us-to open our minds to new experiences and to new ideas. We're told over again that we should go out and serve, that we should be women who will make a difference in the world. But it's difficult to find truth or direction in these words. In the end, we have to find our own truth, we have to discover our own passions, we have to write our own motto.

So be passionate, 2002. Search for this passion. Search long and hard and look deep insider yourself and when you find it, don't let it go. Be happy. Search for what will make you happy. You deserve it. Don't settle for anything less. Pick a dream and pursue it. But don't pick anyone else's dream. Above all, be true to yourself and to your values. Nothing is more important.

I'd like to end by thanking everyone here today. Thank you, Diana, for leading this school into a new century. Thank you, Ms. Goldberg. I speak for a lot of people when I say I'm a tremendous admirer. I'd like to thank whoever printed out my diploma-thank you very much.

I want to thank all of the families here, my family especially. You raised us, nurtured us and supported us. I hope you're proud of your daughters and granddaughters, mothers and sisters today. They've accomplished a lot. I want to thank the faculty. You challenged us. You believed in us. You inspired us. You've set us along paths we never could have imagined. We will try hard to live up to your example. I'd like to thank the service and support staff. You are the backbone of this institution, working tirelessly to keep things running smoothly. Your efforts are too often taken for granted, so thank you.

Finally, I want to thank each and every member of the Class of 2002. For four short years, our paths crossed here and I'll be grateful for that for the rest of my life. Tennyson once wrote, "I am a part of all that I have met." Well, I'm taking a part of each of you with me next year. I'm taking a part of Wellesley with me next year. I'm taking the best part. I'm taking the friendships I have made, and the confidence, strength and knowledge I have gained. I'm taking a sense of sisterhood and connection with this school that I don't understand, but that I'll have the rest of my life. I'm taking the realization that the world will be a better place because we're heading out into it. We are incredible women: dynamic and determined. I know that, and you know that, and now is our chance to go out and make sure everyone else knows that.

Congratulations, 2002. We made it.