Commencement 2011 Highlights
It’s not the circumstances you encounter. It is who you are. Will you manifest your truth? And this is the real challenge. I’m here to tell you now that life is not about the big fights, the big battle, your great destination. Life is about the small moments every single day— those acts of kindness and decency and love that will define you, that in their aggregate add up to a lifetime of profound contribution. This is life. It doesn’t start next year. It doesn’t start when you finish graduate school. It doesn’t start when you get a job. Today is the day you have to tell your truth, to manifest your essence, to declare the state of your soul.”
—Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory A. Booker (Watch Booker’s commencement speech.)
In a lively commencement address, Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory A. Booker shared lessons from a host of teachers in his life, from Langston Hughes and Frederick Douglass to his own grandfather, who, Booker said, urged him to “never forget I can learn as much from a woman on the fifth floor of the projects as I could from one of these fancy professors.” “You must stand,” Booker told those gathered for the college’s 222nd Commencement on June 5. “Stand with all of your heart, all of your idealism, all of your passion, all of your caring and the understanding that the biggest thing you can do any day is a small act of kindness, of decency and love.” More words of wisdom from Commencement Weekend follow.
Expeditions are a little of what you know and a lot more about what you don’t.—Ann Bancroft, Arctic and Antarctic explorer, baccalaureate speaker
Whatever communities we find ourselves a part of in the future, what we bring to the table are not merely the quantitative expectations of a Williams College graduate but the qualitative, empathetic warmth of people who have spent four fantastic years of their lives in the Purple Valley.—Gea Hyun Shin ’11, valedictorian
More than any building or Purple Mountain, I will miss the people here most, because you are Williams’ greatest treasure, a human endowment, a community of stars that we don’t have to aim for, just embrace. And in four years I’ve hugged a lot of people.—Christopher J. Fox ’11, class speaker and winner of the Dewey Prize for “most creditable oration in point of composition and delivery at the commencement exercises”
If any of you have glanced at the back of my left hand over the past four years, you may have noticed the black and blue notes scrawled on its side. … They are the life lessons I feel impelled to remember on a given day. … This commencement day, “Look up” is inked on my hand because it epitomizes the lessons of perspective, curiosity and compassion I have learned from the brilliant people before my eyes.—Briana Marshall ’11, Phi Beta Kappa speaker