Alexandra Tingstrom Woodruff
Alexandra Tingstrom Woodruff, president of the Class of 2007, delivered the student speech at Smith College’s 129th commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 20.
Welcome all distinguished guests, faculty, staff, family, friends, and of course: The Class of 2007! Thank you for joining us on this special occasion.
When I first got to Smith someone told me that it would be over before I knew it. I never really believed that... Until this moment, until today. As we’ve come closer and closer to the end, like many of you, I have been thinking back over my time here: specifically the things I love about this place, the things I, we, will miss as we move on to the next stages of our lives.
According to a card at the drug store downtown, “The only GPA you have to think about now is...the Great Party After.” (pause) Considering the last week, I would say that it has been so far -- with more to come. We have spent a week celebrating the end of our undergraduate lives, and coming to the realization that the first thing that we will miss is each other. You, my classmates, have made this a truly special place. Beyond all of you, there are some things I think we will all miss about Smith.
To begin with, let’s talk about the squirrels. For those of you not acquainted with Smith’s squirrels they are a sight to behold. You will see them doing back flips off the dumpsters holding salvaged pita in their mouths only to scurry up a tree to hide their treasure in the dead of winter. I don’t think we’ll find any quite like them anywhere in the world, and they truly brightened my day. For a campus that doesn’t allow any house pets I think we were all glad that the squirrels were so domesticated.
If the squirrels are an analogy for anything, it is that the environment here is amazing. Beyond those small animals is a campus that is absolutely beautiful and that I think all of us will miss. Though we are indoors, I promise you, it looks a lot better when the sun is shining. Living in this wonderfully manicured environment has been a pleasure and we will miss having such an aesthetically pleasing place to call home.
Additionally, I can think of no place that has traditions as diverse as those at Smith. No matter what you chose to take part in, Smith has a tradition for it. From going to convocation as a naïve first year in a dress made of Saran Wrap to tea at the President’s House and Senior Ball, there is something here for everyone. And if that something was missing, being creative and talented Smithies, we created new traditions: such as Chats by the Fire with President Christ and Dean Mahoney and the Campus Center Pub. The tradition I’ll happen to miss most is Mountain Day, our day off for no other reason than it’s just a nice day. Determined by the president and signaled by the ringing of bells, this is one that will never be repeated for our class but one that will never be forgotten.
Another thing that we will all surely miss are the amazing professors. Yes, despite the coursework and filling our days with reading and writing. Now that we’re leaving the world of academia, we’ll have to find some other way to occupy our Saturday nights. Well, maybe our Saturday nights won’t be all that different, but at least the other nights of the week. To all the faculty: We appreciate your encouragement, advice, and helping us to become the women we are today.
There is so much more I would love to share, but since we are anxious to receive our degrees, I’ll just say a few last words.
Before getting in the car and driving away, I encourage you to take a walk around. My first fall here, I walked along Elm Street and found myself amidst nature. The leaves were falling off the trees and the path was covered in puddles of red, orange, yellow and green. I took that walk again yesterday and in spite of the rain found it to be just as refreshing. Along with the campus, the city of Northampton will be missed. Many of us have enjoyed walks downtown for a cup of coffee and to browse the many shops. I will miss the excitement of leaving campus, whether it’s walking to Herrell’s for ice cream, going to Boston for the weekend, or riding the bus to Amherst and UMass. As much as we feel the urge to leave campus while we are here, Smith always welcomes us back.
We have been waiting for this occasion for a long time. Take a moment to look around you. There are probably many familiar faces; those you met as you started your journey at Smith, those you met in class or shared common interest in a club or organization, and those who you are just meeting. There might even be some unfamiliar faces, perhaps a new friend. Introduce yourself to those unfamiliar faces. Even though we will be soon parting ways, we are all Smithies. The moment has come when we shed our status as students and become alumnae. We are only here for a few short years, but we are Smithies for life. It’s not too late to make a new friend.
Members of the Class of 2007, you have amazed me. You not only transformed this place, but have been transformed by it. While some of us are going on to pursue advanced degrees; some of us are going on to new jobs, new apartments; and some of us are going home or traveling the world -- All of us are moving on to new things. As much as there will be things to be missed, there are so many things to look forward to: the first day in a new job, building a career, decorating your first apartment or house, starting a family, coming back to Smith for reunions, getting the Alumnae quarterly, and the many benefits of being a Smith Alum. No matter where you are going, we’ll all look back on today and remember the moment that we all gathered in celebration of our time at Smith.
You are all incredible women. Each and every one of you has your own story. As we become alumnae of Smith College, my wish for you is to follow your dreams, stay in touch with your friends, but most importantly, do things that make you happy. Thank you for making Smith a great place.
Congratulations to the Class of 2007!
I now have the honor of presenting President Christ with a gift from the Class of 2007.
We would like to present the college with a donation to the endowed fund called the Smith Fund for Organizations and Developing Leaders, which was started last year by the Class of 2006. The Senior Class Cabinet raised $2,007 as its first contribution, not to be confused with the gift we received yesterday from the Alumnae Association. We envision that this fund will enable alumnae, or any member of the Smith College community, to directly support student organizations and leadership development, and that class cabinets and organization and house leaders will be able to apply for these funds. The senior class hopes the Smith Fund for Organizations and Developing Leaders will play an instrumental role in the lives of Smith students for years to come. With gratitude, we ask that you accept this gift on behalf of all the members of the senior class. Thank you.