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.
I was feeling happy earlier this evening, but now I’m a little depressed.
Maybe it’s hitting me that this is my last semester in Shadley. I’ve got exciting classes this spring, and one of them looks difficult. Those are the ones that make you stretch, grow, learn, and achieve things that you never thought you could do.
But I’m thinking, after May, that’s it. No more coffee at the Dirty. No more Skinner Green. No more Blanchard. Most of all, no more seeing my friends and teachers every day. I’ll miss that. They’re part of who I am. So is Shadley. Always will be.
I’ll come back for reunions and events of course, but I’ll also be busy with graduate education and life. Shadley will have to fit into that schedule.
Wait a second. That was all true earlier this evening when I felt happy. And I know from some of my neuroscience and psychology classes that highs alternate with lows. The reason I feel low now is that I was emotionally high before. I mean, I’m still sad that I’ll be leaving Shadley after graduation, but that’s not the important thing right now. Even the Bible says it:
Don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)
The important thing right now is to enjoy this semester and make the most of it. To study. To spend time with my friends. To let my professors know how much I appreciate all the things they’ve taught me and how much they’ve encouraged me. To walk around campus and make a memory picture that I can take with me wherever I go.
I feel better now. This is going to be a great semester.
Copyright 2011 by Rinth de Shadley.
Sorry that I haven’t blogged lately, but I’m back at school and busy with J-Term.
During January, we get to take classes that normally wouldn’t take, explore new ideas, and take day trips with our friends.
Tomorrow afternoon, I’ve got a class. Then a little dancing and Senior Pub Night. And this weekend it’s off to New York.
I hope that you’re having a great J-Term, too!