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Student Commencement Address 2008

Keena Humphrey ’08

Keena Humphrey, president of the Class of 2008, delivered the student speech at Smith College’s 130 commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 18.

I am truly honored to speak to you this morning on behalf of the great and rocking Class of 2008. I would also like to extend a warm welcome to all of my classmates, family, friends, staff and guests.

I still find it hard to believe that it is actually over. I remember first stepping on campus, not knowing what to expect and looking at the seniors as probably the coolest thing ever. They showed us the ropes, and had us looking forward to what we are doing right now: graduating. Now, I wonder how many first-years and sophomores are thinking the same thing about us? What will they do after we leave? The cycle starts in awe and ends in amazing.

How many of you remember the first day of our orientation? It was a sunny, breezy day, a lot like today. Moving in, we met our HONS for the first time and our HPs and HRs were so nice. It was our first introduction to this Smith bubble. And who couldn’t appreciate having a big sib, being a little sib, Friday tea, May Day, senior banquet, the works.

Many of us have become so used to the Smith bubble, to being accommodated by Smith, that we wonder how we are going to make it in the real world. “Smith College educates women of promise for lives of distinction,” declares our Mission Statement. It goes on to say: “A college of and for the world, Smith links the power of the liberal arts to excellence in research and scholarship, developing leaders for society's challenges.” Little did we know as naïve first-years that we stepped onto Smith’s campus as leaders, or women of promise. Smith has enhanced our power and ability to be more and do better. We are women of distinction.

I love the Hallmark store. Recently, I came across a quote on a teakettle I saw there. “Women are like teabags,” it said. “You never know their real strength until they’re in hot water.” Well, we’ve been in hot water our whole time at Smith. If we can take a second to think about it, we’ve seen the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami, Jena 6, the Cyclone, the earthquake in China, and we will vote in an historic election this year. We are all strong individuals, and if you ever doubt your abilities, take a quick preview of your college life. See what you’ve been through to understand where you can go.

Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds. We have all met challenges and overcome adversity to make it here today. Late nights doing papers, cramming before exams, crying on the way to finals, sending that dreadful email to your professors asking for an extension. Congratulations, fellow graduates.

Some things we will miss, others we probably won’t. No more water bottles at Chapin, making friends with locals, thanking President Christ for always seeming to have Mountain Day at the right time, not taking primal scream for granted, appreciating the snack cart during finals, actually looking forward to tea at 4, and finally, trying to figure out which animal scares you the most: raccoons by the trash cans at night, possums lurking in the bushes on our way home from a great house party, whether it be Scales of Baldwin’s, or squirrels, which are the real reason we are late to class…even if our professors don’t believe us. Congratulations, Class of ’08.

We survived the annoying student in class who talks too much, the embarrassment of walking into class late, losing our keys and having to wait for Public Safety, house meetings, waiting for the PVTA that always seems to break down at UMass… Congratulations.

Now it’s time for us to say farewell to bed head and to waking up and going to our next function in what we slept in. Farewell to excuses as to why you missed class, farewell to sweat pants every day, farewell to morning breath for half the day, farewell to no Friday classes and farewell to late-night partying.

As an old saying goes: when one door closes, another opens. So we will say hello to new challenges, new faces and new opportunities to cause a ruckus. And when you feel powerless like a drop of water, as an alum put it, think of the Grand Canyon. We may be weary, but we are not weak. That is something we can all take away from our Smith College experience.

Smith has prepared us for the ever-changing world. As we leave here today, know that the only thing constant in the world is change, so we must adapt. When the sending and receiving of text messages from friends and family was happening this morning, I couldn’t cry. I know that this is not goodbye, but a see-you-later. Stay in touch with friends, whether they are going to Chile, Jordan, Georgia, Chicago, or a neighboring borough. Keep on climbing the ladder.

Thank you.

Presentation of the Senior Class Gift
Following her speech, Kenna Humphrey presented the Senior Class Gift to President Christ. The Senior Class Cabinet raised $2,008 as a donation to the Smith Fund for Organizations and Developing Leaders, which was established in 2006 to support student organizations.