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Student Commencement Address 2011

Ketura’h Edwards ’11

Ketura’h Edwards, president of the Class of 2011, delivered the student speech at Smith College’s 133rd commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 15.

Good morning...and thank you to our families, friends, professors, and staff. Without your acts of generosity, words of encouragement and support—along with the occasional tough love—we would not be here.

And, of course, good morning to the ones, the class of 2011.

On Rally Day this February; filing in with the medalists and looking around at all of your faces, I thought...this is it! We are finally done. As I looked back at my four years at Smith, I feel I have been truly blessed. I have learned new topics across an array of disciplines, worked with professors who challenged me every day, and, best of all, I had the opportunity to spend four years laughing, crying, rejoicing, stressing—and everything in between—with you, my classmates.

Attending a women’s college is an experience in itself; attending Smith College is an added bonus. There is no other place at this point in my life where I could have had the freedom to explore my identity and develop my sense of self as a woman and what that means to me. This is true for many of us.

There is so much about Smith to miss: Mountain Day—a day I think all employers should practice; House teas—got to love the talks from Oh My; Quad riots and the stench from debris is something that I cannot forget; Collaborations; Float Night; wonderful dance performances; Midnight Madness; and although I did not participate in primal scream, it was always fun to see how many of our friends were bold enough to strip down and run through the campus center or jump into the pond.

While many of us have occasionally complained about Smith, there have also been times when we couldn’t wait to get back here. That’s because we know Smith is our home—because we are Smith. We are members of the Rugby team, Al-Iman, Jazz ensemble, BSA, Smith Republicans, Transcending Gender. All of these organizations contain students with a common goal: to participate in shared interests as well as to educate others. Smith is one of the safest places to try something new and be different. This is the community she has created for students, and what I will miss most.

I always joked with my friends that as we approached our senior year, we should pick rooms closer to the exit. Instead of claiming spaces on the fourth floor, I felt it was more appropriate to move to the second floor—closest to the door. When I realized that I was at that door, I hesitated. I was unsure of what the future had in store for our class.

Today, however, as I look at all of you, I can confidently say it is our time to leave. Smith has exposed us to everything it has to offer, and there are no words to express how much Smith has changed our lives. Only by making an impact on the world can we show Smith its impact on us.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that success is being able

“To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
And the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
And endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether
By a healthy child, a garden patch
Or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
Easier because you have lived.
This is to have Succeeded.”

Members of our class have accomplished so much individually and as a group. We are ambitious, confident, savvy, and fearless Smithies. There is no class like the class of 2011. We are involved on and off campus. You will always hear the opinions of our classmates at a forum or rally, and a few of us are proudly the “it” girl. We are even making changes internationally by helping women with AIDS in Kiberia, Kenya or teaching women’s health to female university students in Surnath, India. So whether you are starting a career, going to grad school, joining Teach For America, embarking on an international adventure, or taking a breather at home before pursuing your dream to be the first female president of the United States; be confident knowing you will be successful. Remember the education and the experiences you have gained over these past four years have prepared you to take on any challenge.

I am so proud to call myself a member of the class of 2011.

Congratulations! We did it!! Hope for money in your graduation cards because you are now a tax-paying adult.

Thank you.