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Commencement
 

What They Said

Excerpts from Commencement speeches

 

 

 

Linda G. Toohey
Linda G. Toohey

Linda G. Toohey 
Skidmore Board of Trustees Chair

When you first arrived at Skidmore, I’m sure many of you only had a vague vision of this day, but from that day to this day, we the Skidmore community have been observing your growth, your strength, your aptitude, your creativity, and your swelling intelligence. In a very few moments we will be unbelievably proud to call you alumni.

You walk into a world that needs leadership, insight, intelligence. Through your energy and hard work and the education you’ve allowed yourself to achieve and absorb at Skidmore, we know you are prepared to take on the challenges that are presented to you the moment you leave the campus, for the rest of your life.

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Philip A. Glotzbach
Philip A. Glotzbach

Philip A. Glotzbach
Skidmore President

A college community is a place where we forge what are often our first adult friendships—ones that, quite literally, will last across our entire lifetime and that grow more meaningful with each passing year. Marie and I frequently meet alumni from decades past who have maintained their Skidmore friendships for 40, 50, 60 years, or more. …

We could say that the ensemble of one’s friendships constitutes a kind of micro-community. At a time when the world can so easily break one’s heart on matters that are truly important or even those that are trifling in the larger scheme of things, we can always turn to the members of that micro-community for affirmation, for support, for a reminder that community matters and that there are other people who absolutely will stand with you. They always will have your back. See to it that, as a true friend, you stand with your friends and always have their back as well.

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Julian Bond
Julian Bond

Julian Bond
Teacher, Author, Activist

Wherever you may go from here—if there are hungry minds or hungry bodies nearby, you can feed them. If there are precincts of the powerless poor nearby, you can organize them. If there is racial or ethnic injustice, you can attack and destroy it.

By this ritual today, you are about to be officially enrolled in an elite within our nation – the community of educated women and men. As you go forward from this place, we all hope you will do well. But we hope you will also do good.

You must place interest in principle above interest on principal.

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Sallie W. Chisholm
Sallie W. (Penny) Chisholm '69

Sallie W. (Penny) Chisholm '69
Biological Oceanographer

This is your day, and I suspect I should be trying to share with you some pearls of wisdom, or inspire you to go forth and make the world a better place. Try as I might, I could only come up with clichés. So instead I’ve decided to share with you a parable I once read, from a commencement address by David Foster Wallace, that left a deep impression on me. It goes something like this:

Two young fish are swimming along one day and come across an old fish. He nods and says, "Morning, kids. How's the water?" The young fish swim on until they are out of earshot. Then one turns to the other with a puzzled look, and says, "What the hell is water?"

The point is that it is often the most important realities of our world that we have trouble seeing. We are so self-absorbed, so distracted, so lacking in awareness in our day-to-day lives that we miss the most important dimensions of being human—of being alive.

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Soraya Attia
Soraya Attia '15

Soraya Attia
President of the Senior Class

We’ll be able to look back and laugh about the all-nighters we pulled and the group projects that Skidmore faculty love to assign. We’ll smile at the memories of the clubs and groups we joined and the extracurricular activities that helped us meet our best friends. We’ll reminisce about chicken-finger Friday, graduating from twin-XL to full-sized beds, and that one semester that we spent less than $50 on textbooks…. Some of us will be back to visit next semester, others at our five-year reunion, but regardless, we will always carry a part of Skidmore with us.

Take your ambition and use it to create something new. Let’s make a commitment to make the change that we spent the last four years in our classes talking about. Let’s embrace our potential as individuals and help others in ways people didn’t think we could.

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Noam Yossefy and Kojo Amarteyfio
Kojo Amarteyfio '15 and Noam Yossefy'15

Noam Yossefy and Kojo Amarteyfio
Senior Gift Co-Chairs

Philanthropy is an integral component of the Skidmore experience…. Students devote countless hours to charitable and humanitarian causes, from FeelGood workers who make grilled cheese sandwiches to end world hunger, to members of the Student Government Association who revise campus policies and represent the student body, to our acoustic all-stars the Drastic Measures, who raised funds to support persecuted LGBT people seeking asylum….

This year, the Senior Gift Challenge has focused on sustainability on campus. Inspired by the Sustainability Office’s accomplishments and by fellow seniors working on the Community Garden, the Bikemore and compost programs, and the Skidmore Unplugged competition, the Senior Gift is committed to supporting future student-led initiatives that improve our campus and leave an impactful legacy.

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Mehmet Odekon
Mehmet Odekon

Mehmet Odekon
Professor of Economics
Skidmore College

The strongest asset you have gained from Skidmore is your ability to think critically and creatively and to communicate your thoughts effectively. It is a skill unique to your excellent liberal arts education and essential for good citizenship. More importantly, in my view, it is essential for becoming a catalyst, an agent for social change, social change that will enhance your freedom as individuals.

Freedom, my friends, is never complete if we live in a society plagued with high poverty and inequality. Freedom is never complete in a society that judges people by the color of their skin or other physical attributes, or by their religious beliefs, or by their sexuality. Freedom is never complete if members of a society live constantly with the threat of natural disasters caused by climate change accelerated by human action. Freedom is not complete until each and every one of us is free from such ills.

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Sibyl Waterman Haley
Sibyl Waterman Haley '71

Sibyl Waterman Haley '71
President of the Alumni Association

Don’t race away too quickly. Slow down and take a moment to let it all sink in. Think of your hard work, your accomplishments, the education you have received here.…

And once you’ve joined the hurly-burly of the grownup world, come back. You will discover the bonds between Skidmore alumni, as we are welcoming, supportive, and helpful in both social and career situations….

And as your busy lives swirl you around, give back… Help make it possible for those less fortunate to have the opportunities you have enjoyed.

Look back. Come back. Give back. You won’t be sorry.

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