Seniors graduated today. Goodbye, and good luck! You’ll be missed.
The Wesleyan Connection has transcripts, videos, and photos from earlier today:
- 177th Commencement Highlights
- Ravid Chowdhury’s ’09 Senior Class Welcome
- President Roth’s remarks
- Anna Quindlen’s Commencement Address
- Commencement Video Clips
- Commencement Photos
President Roth and commencement speaker Anna Quindlen both spoke about the tough times graduates will likely face because of the bleak state of our country, but offered hope. The loss of Johanna Justin-Jinich was part of both of their speeches.
An excerpt from the article:
Anna Quindlen, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who addressed Wesleyan University‘s Class of 2009 Sunday, painted a bleak picture of contemporary life.
Quindlen, a best-selling author and former New York Times columnist, described a society in which people lined their wallets by “investing and trading nothing at all,” a culture that withholds equality for gays, lesbians and women, and a nation of people who place greater emphasis on their bank accounts than on the wealth of their souls.
She also spoke of the loss of Johanna Justin-Jinich, a Wesleyan junior who was killed in a nearby bookstore May 6, just a short walk from the field where the graduates received their diplomas.
“As a proud Wesleyan mother, I suspect there are some like me out there who are keenly aware that they sit here today in the place of another woman … a woman who will never see her daughter come down Foss Hill in a bright red gown,” Quindlen said. “In a world in which tragedy seems to strike too often and too randomly, we who have our children close to us today are without question extraordinarily lucky.”[…] Quindlen, whose son graduated from Wesleyan in 2007, issued the school’s 742 graduates an appeal.
“We need you to make this a fairer place, a more unified nation, a country that wipes out the bright lines of class and race that have created an apartheid, an apartheid too long denied,” she said. “I know you hate to hear your parents say it even when you’re driving to Great Adventure, but we’re lost. We’re counting on you to be the GPS.”
Quindlen paid tribute to those who came before her — generations of women who were “denied the right to the pen and the podium” — and reminded the graduates of the “countless” others who weren’t admitted to the elite college, including parents and grandparents who could not afford it.
University President Michael S. Roth called for a moment of silence for Wesleyan members who died in the past year and featured Justin-Jinich prominently in his remarks.
Roth spoke about Justin-Jinich’s efforts to improve prenatal care for poor women and about the need for gun control and efforts to stop violence against women.
“Johanna’s murder should remind us all of the idiocy of our handgun regulations,” he said, receiving applause. “With more than 30,000 people dying annually from gun violence in this country, and with more than 12,000 murders committed with guns, we need you to help us enter the world of nations governed by laws, not by violence.”
Jennifer J. Alexander, a Wesleyan alumna who received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree, read from E.B. White’s classic, “Charlotte’s Web.” Alexander, who founded the city’s nonprofit Kidcity Children’s Museum, drew on the story’s theme of leaving the nest and finding community.
Alexander, a member of the Class of 1988, described the exodus of classmates who moved to “wonderful futures” in such near and distant cities as Seattle, San Francisco and New York after graduation while she stayed in Middletown.
“At that time, it felt like it was a failure to dream big enough,” Alexander said. “But later, it turned out that that simple act of staying brought more joy and accomplishment to my life than I could ever have imagined. I hope that you find something in your life that makes you want to stay in a place, in a discipline or in a friendship.”
After the speeches, the graduates tossed their red and black mortarboards skyward and filed out to the strains of the school song, “Come, Raise The Song.”