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Williamson Medalist Address: Yousra Chaabane '19

Remarks as prepared by 2019 Williamson Medal Award Winnter Yousra Chaabane '19:

Thank you, Dean Hazlett, for your kind words. Thank you, President Altmann, members of the Board of Trustees, members of the faculty, and distinguished alumni. And, of course, thank you to my fellow students. It is a tremendous honor to stand here today. 

Class of 2019, congratulations! If you look around, most of you should see the same faces that you saw when we started this journey together. Three years and eight months ago, we were seated in this exact formation for convocation. Thanks to our classmates sitting beside us, by virtue of the professors and Trustees sitting to our left and our right, and perhaps most importantly, because of the support of the family and friends sitting behind us and watching online, we get to celebrate our achievement here today. 

As different as we, as individuals, may be, we have consistently been brought together by a passion for learning and a fascination with the unknown. Whether we explored that passion through classes and research, within the halls of the performing arts centers, or through our performance on the field, we as a class have characterized ourselves through our ambitious curiosity, tenacity in pursuit, a sense of idealism, persistence in the face of adversity, and most of all, our compassion. It has been an honor to be a member of a class so dedicated to learning and so passionate about life.

Coming to F&M from the Netherlands, I had never been to the United States, yet was fascinated with this unknown place called Franklin & Marshall College. The way my F&M career started, with an exploration of the unknown, has in certain ways become the theme of many of our journeys. During our time here, all of us, albeit in different ways, have continued to push the boundaries and explore what lies beyond. There is an intrinsic sense of self-determination that comes with embracing a new environment and making it your own through continually questioning it, an endeavor all of us will continue to pursue after today, whether within the United States or beyond. If there is anything I have learned from my international experience, it is that we must learn from the world, in order to be ready to seize its opportunities. I am confident that F&M has given us the necessary skills to make a difference in our communities and the world at large.

As all of you know, our achievement, celebrated here today, is not simply waited for or accidentally encountered. It is the result of our unwavering commitment toward self-improvement, a carefully cultivated sense of self, and an unfortunate amount of time spent in the library writing papers. However, as we were writing our papers, we inadvertently wrote our own stories and while outlining our ambitions, we achieved our goals. This process of self-discovery and ultimately self-improvement has set us apart as a class as we have combined our passion for learning with a drive toward benefiting those who have not had the same opportunities we had.

This yearning for self-improvement has therefore been rooted in an appropriate sense of self-denial, a focus on service, and a persistence in terms of our humanity. We improve ourselves, so we may better help those around us. In a way, one might say, we have become true diplomats.

Class of 2019, I have been inspired by your passion for learning and your unwavering commitment to self-improvement. On this occasion, let's remind ourselves of our individual passions and how they have broadened our perspective as a class. Let's show the world what we're made of and what true diplomats can do.

Thank you.

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