May 23, 2010
by Selina Isobel Strasburger, Senior Class President
Thank you President Hill, and thank you to all of the professors and trustees in attendance. Welcome to all the family, friends, underclassmen, as well as Vassar grads in the audience, and to our commencement speaker Lisa Kudrow. And an even bigger welcome to the Class of 2010.
Well hello. You are all looking incredibly dashing on this fun filled morning on this fun-filled occasion. How is everybody holding up? I hope you all enjoyed Senior Week! The Senior Class Council has worked hard throughout the year to bring you the best events possible, but Senior Week was definitely the biggest project we took on. As such, I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone on Class Council for their time and energy, to Terry, Maureen, Ken, and Don for their wonderful counsel and endless patience, and also to the Daisies and Violets for all their help this year, and for looking so fabulous today. And most of all, I can’t even begin to express the immense amount of gratitude I have for Austin, Christina, and Brian, my fellow exec board members. Those three individuals have spent countless hours working on Senior Class events, and none of them would have happened if it hadn’t been there. I consider myself so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with such superstars this past year, and they deserve so much praise for their commitment to the senior class and doing everything in their power to ensure that every senior would graduate with wonderful memories of their final year at Vassar...So thank you everyone.
When I started writing this speech, which was admittedly more recently than it maybe should have been, I started thinking about us, the past year, and how the first class email I ever sent to all of you was about commencement. I remember being so anxious about it, and worrying about what to write and how to write it—all issues that I got over pretty quickly during this past year, as many of you know from my probably overly conversational emails that I would send out every week. So it only seems appropriate that we’ve come full circle, as I realized that in many ways this is my last class e-mail, and not only is it on graduation, but I’ve also regressed back to being worried and anxious about what to write, and what you will all think. So to help deal with the anxiety that suddenly decided to take residence in my chest, I decided not to think of this as a commencement speech, but as my final love letter to the class I love. Although I should go ahead and warn you that there won't be a random YouYube video at the end of this speech, and Werner Herzog won'tcome to perform a live reading of “Where’s Waldo.”
So back to my love note. I considered a range of approaches, especially of the more poetic variety – a haiku, perhaps:
Class of 2010
Looking so fine all the time
How I will miss you
I considered sonnets, and incorporating “how do I love thee, let me count the ways,” I even considered writing an acrostic, but that got a little more tricky with all of the numbers.
Ultimately, however, I realized that it was best to keep it straightforward and honest, which was surprisingly tough, because once I had decided to ditch the flowery language, what was it that I really wanted to say? Believe it or not, there’s actually a lot to love about you all, and trying to whittle it down to a list short enough that would allow us to graduate today rather than tomorrow wasn’t easy. So after much deliberation here is an incredibly condensed list of why I love our class, consisting of two reasons: Our pride, and our fearlessness.
I love how proud we are of our friends, classmates, and being Vassar’s class of 2010. The amount of support everyone shows toward their peers always makes me so, well, proud. Whether it’s a dance performance, volleyball game, or thesis presentation, I am always impressed by the number of people who take the time to step away from their work and go out and show their peers that they care. Our class pride was especially evident in the turnout we had for our senior class events. A perfect example is when we decided to start a new tradition of “99 Nights In,” and the weather was so horrendous that I was positive no one was going to want walk out to the Alumnae/I House, and on top of that we had an issue with braceleting, and so I had convinced myself that the entire event was going to be complete failure and no one was going to come; but you all not only arrived on time, you stayed waaay past the ending time. It literally got to the point where I had to physically push people out so that we could clean up. And that’s how most of our events ended up going; all of you showing up, having a festive time, and then refusing to leave. Those events made me realize how much we enjoy connecting as a class and talking to people we haven’t had a class with since first semester freshmen year, as well as meeting new people and forming new friendships even if it’s the last semester of senior year.
I love how we are fearless. Time and again our class has shown that we’re not afraid to step outside our comfort zone. So many members of our class have stood up and fought for causes they believe in, have jumped out of planes, have studied abroad for a whole semester in a country they had never visited before, have pursued academic topics that can seem daunting and overwhelming, have played rugby (a sport I still find terrifying), and have continued to challenge the borders of what is considered normal. We are fearless on the dance floor and in the classroom, and we constantly put ourselves out there with our artwork, performances, and opinions knowing the risk of public scrutiny, but choosing to do it anyway.
And what I love most of all is knowing that these two traits, along with the many others that I neglected to mention, aren’t passing fads. I know that all of you will continue to have pride in what you do, to support your peers, and to be fearless in all aspects of your life, and I know that because of that you will change the world for the better, even if it’s in the most minute way. And do you know what else I love? That the world doesn’t even know what’s about to hit it. But the moment 600 incredible Vassar grads leave this campus and go out in pursuit of their dreams and ambitions, it will. And the world is going to love the Vassar Class of 2010 just as much as I do, and maybe someday it too will write a love letter to us all.
It’s been an honor, and I’m sincerely going to miss all of you.
Thank you and good luck.