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Upcoming Commencement Dates

  • June 9, 2019
  • June 14, 2020
  • June 13, 2021
  • June 12, 2022

Valedictory to the College

By Alexandra Heywood '11

Mr. President, members of the Board of Trustees, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen:

After this ceremony, we, the graduating class of 2011, will go out into the world and lose, in some part, a community that we have been a part of for the past four years. In this community that is Dartmouth, we have our own dialect. And I was going to give a brilliant example of this before I was upstaged by Mr. Conan O'Brien.

Much of our community structure was set up for us here before we arrived—the library, the academic departments, Dick's House, the Tucker Foundation. But a lot of it we built ourselves. I knew this was a community the day I realized that if I took it into my head that I wanted to build a boat out of say, pine needles, complete with sonar and maybe a stereo system, and fueled by, say, vegetable oil, I would know just who to go to. And I'm a Russian major.

It's not a question of networking, that’s exactly what I do not have in mind. Think for a moment, about where you've discovered community on this campus. I found mine in the Edgerton Episcopal House, in the Russian department, and at Christian Impact. And now think about what you liked most about your tightest community, because that's what I want you to create, to recreate wherever you go.

We are mobile society, which can be a blessing and a curse. The blessing you see as you look around at your fellow students from all 50 states and over 50 countries. The curse, however, is more subtle—it's hard to commit to a community when you're new to it, and then later when you know you'll be moving on.

Before coming to Dartmouth, I never realized I needed any community other than my family. When I got here, I was so homesick—so all you people out there who my freshmen year were always going on about, "I loved trips, I'm so glad to be back after break, etc., etc.," let me just say, that you were not my favorite people. But stepping away from my family and into a new environment brought me face-to-face with the value of community.

When I went abroad to Ukraine to work as an English teacher in an orphanage during an off-term, I was able to seek out and build relationships there as well. As we go out into the world, we need to do this. The human race is not a solitary species.

That's why I can say that one truth I've found in community is that any honor granted here also goes to our friends, our families, our professors, our staff. For me, this honor goes especially to the faculty of the Russian department, to my friends, to my brother and my sister, to my mom and to my dad, and to God.

Last Updated: 3/17/16