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Commencement 2021 Closing Remarks

Kathleen McCartney, President of Smith College


Watch on Facebook: President McCartney’s remarks start at 2:37:22.

Graduates of the class of 2021: The time has come for you to join a most distinguished community—the alums of Smith College. This community will be yours for life. You will stand with graduates who, like you, will change the world, who will challenge the world, and who will carry Smith with them in all that they do.

Know that while you leave Smith today, you do not leave it behind. Smith has changed each of your lives, and you have changed Smith just as much. You have been part of its evolution and have left your mark on it in countless ways. And you will return here, we hope, often.

You are ready. I have no doubt of that—and I am backed in that belief by the faculty.

I also know that you did not get here alone. Your journey to this day has been made possible by many people. So let us give thanks.

Let us begin by recognizing the staff who have supported you in myriad ways. I would like to take a moment to recognize one group in particular: those staff members who have been by our side since the pandemic began. They are:

The staff who never left.

The staff who came to campus and did the work that needed to be done.

The staff who worked through the fear of the pandemic.

And the staff who have inspired us all.

Let us salute the health care workers, the custodians and housekeepers, the dining staff, the plumbers ... there are more! The power plant operators, electricians, painters, and locksmiths, and the staff in Campus Safety and Student Life. Because of them, we were free to work and study with the knowledge that our campus home would comfort us and keep us safe in ways big and small. Let’s hear it for them one more time.

Let us salute the faculty, who, in this year, reimagined how they would teach so that they could encourage, inspire and challenge you to do your best work. For example, they modeled the curiosity, adaptability and problem-solving skills that a liberal arts education instills. Let us hear it for the faculty.

Finally, I want to give you the opportunity to express your gratitude to the family and friends whose support has made your education possible. They are watching on Zoom so let them hear you.

Graduates, yours has been an extraordinary and unprecedented journey that called for extraordinary and unprecedented resiliency in the face of a pandemic. You answered that call, and Smith will tell your story with pride for generations to come.

As you go forth today, I leave you with this: Smith is a movement, and today it carries you forward. May you make that movement your own.

Congratulations, graduates, we love you!