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Commencement 2011 at Mount Holyoke College.

Farewell to Shadley

Compared to the age of the earth, or even to the much briefer age of the human race, it was barely a moment ago in 1837 that Mary Lyon founded Mount Holyoke. It was just a split-second later when, while taking care of a sick student, she fell ill herself and passed away.

And now, today, our commencement speaker asked: “What are people able to do and to be?”

More to the point would be the question: What are we able to do and to be?

We can do a lot, because we have been given a lot. Now, it’s our turn to start giving back: to our communities, to our societies, and to our world. To all our fellow human beings, great or small. To those who suffer poverty, disease, or injustice. To those who look like us and those who don’t. To those who follow our faiths and those who follow other paths.

And we can also be a lot. We can be people who set an example of leadership, compassion, and dedication to the good. We can be people who make Mary Lyon proud that she founded Mount Holyoke. We can be people who, as Mary Lyon said, “fear nothing in the universe but that we will not know all our duty or shall fail to do it.”

Today, we celebrate the opportunity that we had to attend one of the finest colleges on earth — with the most dedicated teachers, the most interesting fellow students, and a curriculum that challenged all of us to become better than our best. Today, we celebrate how we embraced that opportunity and met that challenge. Today, we celebrate both the achievements of yesterday and the possibilities of tomorrow.

But today we also leave behind a place, and a part of our lives, that changed us forever. To sally forth into the new, we must let go of the old. And when we let go of something we love, it hurts. Part of us will always be at Mount Holyoke, and the spirit of Mount Holyoke will always be within us.

The word “valediction” comes from Latin. “Vale” is the command form of valere, meaning to be strong or be well. The “diction” part comes from dicere, to say. To give a valediction means wishing you to be strong and to fare well on your journey through life. I wish that to all of you: to my fellow Mohos as well as to my teachers, family, friends, and readers.

Be strong and fare well: The world needs you.

Copyright 2011 by Rinth de Shadley.

  1. May 24, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    so wats your next step rinth???

    • May 24, 2011 at 7:57 pm

      Hi, Eva 🙂

      Well, since there’s no chance I’ll be asked to join the cast of “Gossip Girl” on TV, I guess that medical school is next. I’m going to the same med school where my Dad went.

      I hope that things are going great for you, too!

      • May 24, 2011 at 9:30 pm

        oh wow!!! thats awesome… you already got accepted? so cool…so will you still be blogging..since you will have no life anymore hahaha

      • May 24, 2011 at 11:17 pm

        Already accepted, yes! And I know what you mean about having no life. But the med school is close to home so I will be living at home at first. At least there is that. I don’t know how much time I will have for blogging (or anything else).

  2. David
    May 25, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Congradulations (yes, I purposefully misspelled…), young lady. I wish you well. Stay in touch when you can… God bless you in your life…

    • May 26, 2011 at 7:51 pm

      Hi David!!!

      Thank you so much for the kind words. It was a very exciting and emotional day for all of us.

      I hope that your life is going great, too! xoxo

  3. May 28, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Schools out, go rob a drug store and get high. ha ha ha ha ha

    • May 28, 2011 at 10:20 pm

      Thanks, but you seem to have confused me with a Smith graduate. 🙂

  4. June 6, 2011 at 7:20 am

    I saw your link to this on Feministe. Nice post! MHC class of ’03 here 🙂

    • June 6, 2011 at 10:55 am

      Hi Bridget 🙂

      Thank you! I hope that your life is going great.

  5. July 5, 2011 at 5:40 am

    we are both so alike in one sense: we both hardly update our blogs :p

    • July 5, 2011 at 6:28 pm

      Hi Habiba 🙂

      I’m sure that we are alike in lots of ways. Most of my blog’s readers were friends at school, so graduation seemed like a good time to stop.

      I hope that everything is going great for you!

  6. alysonman
    August 8, 2011 at 2:05 am

    Hey Rinth,
    Haven’t heard from you in a while and I see why now!! Congratulations on graduating, that’s so exciting! And reading the other comments, congrats on getting accepted into med school as well. I’m starting my second year (out of five) soon, so I’ve still got a ways to go. I actually have a friend who goes to Holyoke too (she’s going to be staying in one of the haunted dorms). But yes, congratulations and best of luck to ya!

    • August 8, 2011 at 8:25 pm

      Hi Alyson,

      It’s great to hear from you! The last time we talked, wasn’t it when you were looking at colleges? And now you’re a second-year. I hope that you like your school and program. You’ve got so much talent, I hope they appreciate you!

      Med school orientation is in a couple of weeks, but I’ve been “pre-studying” all summer. I’m not quite scared but I’m nervous. There’s so much to learn, and when people’s lives depend on you, you have to know what you’re doing. It’s exciting too, though.

      Several MHC dorms have ghost stories. Wilder, the Delles, Torrey, and of course 1837. I envy your friend — sometimes I get really nostalgic about MHC. But life goes on … 🙂

      Have a wonderful year!

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