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Remarks at the 2019 Commencement Ceremony

Thank you, Dave [Lissy]. It is so wonderful to see your beautiful faces out in the sunshine. And thanks to all of you for being here today to celebrate this major moment and to celebrate one another. 

I am so proud of this learning community and the students in our Class of 2019. What you represent is the very best of IC. You have tremendous fire, inspiring ideas and sharp intellect. And you engage with one another and with this community authentically, by being rooted deeply in your identities. Many of you are representing who you are and your impressive achievements today with cords, stoles and pins.

I’d like to call on a few of those right now:

  • Black and gold single cords identify you as a first-generation college student.
  • Those of you wearing blue and yellow cords are graduating with academic honors as our summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude students.
  • Our students wearing rainbow cords or stoles are showing your pride as part of the LGBTQA community.
  • Red, white and blue cords tell us that you have proudly served your country in the armed forces.
  • Kente stoles are representing a country of origin and tell us about your roots that stretch around the globe.
  • And purple stoles today represent that you’re a member of the inaugural cohort of the BOLD Women’s Leadership Network.

As we look around and see the wide range of cords, stoles and pins, and your beautifully decorated hats, I urge you to remember that these things don’t only connect you to parts of yourself, they connect you to one another. They are visible reminders that celebrating difference is an integral part of celebrating community.  We each contribute to our community in different ways.

What you represent is the very best of IC. You have tremendous fire, inspiring ideas and sharp intellect. And you engage with one another and with this community authentically, by being rooted deeply in your identities.

I would like to introduce two women to you know who have made tremendous contributions this year. Will seniors Elle Bakkalapulo and Hannah Titlebaum please stand. Elle and Hannah have joined us on the platform today because they served as co-chairs of the senior class gift committee. Will the 362 members of the Class of 2019 who supported this effort please stand? I want to personally and publicly express my gratitude to all of you for your generosity — a small amount, a larger amount — thank you for showing us the importance of investing and paying it forward in the student experience beyond yourselves and beyond this moment.

More than 1,500 students comprise the Class of 2019. I’d like to add another 28 people to this group. Individuals in this community who have also reached important milestones this year. Though their college graduation likely happened many years ago I want to take a moment to honor the 17 faculty members who earned tenure this year, and the 11 who joined the professors emeriti community. Thank you for your work, your distinguished careers, and all that you do for IC students.

Finally, to all the graduating students: I want you to know that it has been a tremendous honor to serve during the last two years of your lives at IC. I know the past few years have changed you, and there’s more change to come. When it does, I ask that you let your years here activate a life of purpose — one that anchors you in your truth while connecting you to our shared humanity. We look forward to seeing all that you will accomplish. I am so incredibly proud of you.