Reunion & Commencement 2008
Remarks of Rashida Richardson
Wesleyan 2008 Class President
President Roth, the members of the Board of Trustees, respected faculty, and
distinguished guests, thank you for letting me share this platform with you
So today is our commencement ceremony. This event signifies the beginning of a
new chapter in our lives where we step outside of this bubble we call
"Wellesley" and are supposed to use the experiences we have gained here to
establish ourselves as adults in "real world." We began here as 727 anxious
freshman with some preconceived notions about "college" and tons of confusion
and now we leave here as 738 adults. I would love to continue by saying some
super profound comments about our transitions into adulthood and how this room
is full of various nations' future leaders and we really are going to change the
world, which we are. I would like to say we will change the world and so on. But
honestly, over the past few months I have been overanalyzing our class and what
has really happened within these last four years. The truth is in our time here,
have you ever thought about how the 738 of us got here. Yes, we have all
furnished several memories here meeting new people and fulfilling our Gen Ed
Requirements but we rarely take the time to think about what we have done with
this great opportunities we have been afforded.
During our time here we have experienced about as many changes as Facebook. We
have a new dean of diversity, a first of its kind student government-run
endowment, two presidents and practical re-facing of the campus with a dorm and
senior apartments sprouting on Fauver, a new gym and the elimination of some
buildings like the mystical seven tomb, MoCon and Davenport Campus Center. At
the same time several of our classmates have logged notable accomplishments.
Some participated in the World Universities Debating Championship in Bangkok.
Two were recipients of the Projects for Peace award, which will help build a
biogas digester in Kenya. The student-run Long Lane Farm was awarded the state's
Higher Education Community Service Award. Two students have received the
prestigious Watson fellowship. We have had several community service endeavors
that we've engaged in, such as trips to Mexico and Peru with Wesleyan without
Borders. These contributions are a representative of just some of the change we
However, we also know that Wesleyan is not immune from unfortunate and tragic
events of the outside world. Over these four years we have endured reoccurring
events such as racist and homophobic remarks being written on student's doors in
Clark, racial profiling of students of color, sexual harassment and racist
comments being written outside 200 Church, and the use of excessive force, and
in some cases, the abuse of power, by the police that we all experienced ten
days ago. Although it's unfortunate that these events constantly occur, they
happen daily in the real world and this is just one more way this school
inadvertently prepares us for what's to come.
The truth is despite how much we think that Wesleyan is a bubble, it is actually
a microcosm of the real world, with a little less responsibility; hence, we
constantly think that we are experiencing something drastically different but
it's actually not that much different than anything we are about to get
So 20 years from now when you are thinking about your college experience what
will you remember? The all-nighters you pulled that in retrospect you realized
you only spent one forth of the time actually studying or writing the paper.
Your spring break spent in Olin writing your thesis. Spending hours on the hill
and then later realizing that you are extremely tired from doing nothing.
Realizing in the spring of your senior year that you've never actually seen a
full football game. The 20th of April. The storming President Bennet's office.
Square-dancing on Andrus field and going to Foss Cross during Orientation.
Having senior cocktails cancelled because someone punched a bus driver. Or the
fact that we contributed a substantial amount of money to financial aid through
our class gift.
So if I'm to leave you all with one message its to cherish our memories we've
made here no matter what. I'm pretty sure we can all agree that especially in
the past few weeks our class has been hit with some heavy blows, but to see how
we have made it to this point shows how tenacious we are. And I would hope that
we use both the good and the bad experiences to forge into the "real world" with
this same tenacity and spirit that you all have inspired me with over these four
years. And with that being said I would like to thank god, Buddha and whatever
your personal form of spiritual guidance for allowing us to be here in one
piece; thanks to the great professors and administrators that have helped guide
all of us through our time here; thanks to my parents and all the parents out on
the field today for too many reasons to be named; and finally I wanted to thank
all of you, Class of 2008, for the memories and inspiring me throughout my time
here, I've never been so proud to be part of such an impressive group. I look
forward to seeing you when we all move to New York next week. Congratulations!
Wes we can!