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

Anna Morenz, Valedictorian

Anna MorenzJune 9, 2013

President Folt, members of the board of trustees, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen, Mom and Dad, thank you for your support.

I just want to share one brief story with you all today.

When I imagined college, I assumed I would be automatically surrounded by friends from all over the world and from all interests and walks of life. This was perhaps a bit naïve since common interests and concerns logically do help bind a group together. But, I'm not proud to say that this spring was the first time that I really felt part of a close-knit, diverse group of people who became friends through a program called "Telling My Story." Along with ex-inmates from the community, we students of all years spent hours each week in Haldeman sharing stories from home, which ranged from Cornish, N.H., to Uganda and from our time at Dartmouth, in a way that felt much more alive than studying these issues in the classroom. I puzzled over my privilege and class and analyzed my subjective lens into campus life as part of the DOC community.

A few members of our group were involved in the Dimensions protest and we spent a tense, gray Saturday morning discussing what had happened. My initial anger and righteousness evaporated in the undeniable heat of the painful moments, spoken and unspoken, on campus and beyond, that had accumulated for them, day after day, and that I had been lucky not to experience or had been blind to perceive. I realized then that there's something powerful and irreplaceable about hearing stories from people in person, not over the Internet or in the newspaper or through someone else's voice. I believe in change happening at that level—between two people talking and listening. Maybe it's old-fashioned and simple, but it seems very real to me—a space for genuine empathy and enrichment of worldviews. And, it's something we can actually work for in the face of the daunting structures of oppression that we all studied here at some point along the way. I've gradually learned that getting to know people on the other side of an issue or behind social barriers is an active discipline, at times a deliberately constructed challenge and one that is well worth us taking up in the years to come.

I hope we remain open to new voices and stories especially the ones that unsettle us and make us question what we know.

Thank you and good luck.

Last Updated: 6/12/13