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Commencement Remarks by 2023 Williamson Medalist Nadezhda Ivanova

Remarks as prepared:

Thank you, President Altmann, members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and distinguished alumni. Thank you to my fellow classmates. It’s a great honor to speak to you today.

It has been 1,356 days since we officially started our time at Franklin & Marshall College. Those days have been full of class discussions that showed us the value of a liberal arts education and heated debates about the best study spot on campus (deep down, you all know it’s the second floor of Harris). We ran from chemistry labs to athletic practices and attended College Entertainment Committee events before going to dance rehearsals. And let’s be honest, we’ve all dealt with a fair share of stress and shed a tear or two or maybe even a couple hundred during finals season in Shad. 

The past four years presented us with a few challenges we did not sign up for when we accepted our offers from F&M. Many of us returned to our childhood bedrooms and joined classes on Zoom from different time zones around the world. However, regardless of whether we were gone for a semester, or a year, or even two years, we all found people who helped us in our difficult moments and who were eager to celebrate our great achievements.

The friends we made while at F&M have left a lasting mark on our lives. We learned from our friends’ interests, and attended dance shows, music recitals, and sports games that we might not have otherwise. Our time at F&M was, to a significant degree, shaped by the people we cannot wait to see walk across the stage today. For the past four years, we have been inspired by one another's dedication and resilience. We learned how to stay connected and face adversity together, we advocated for one another, and we worked hard to make the college a better place for those who will come after us.

While the relationships we formed with our classmates influenced which part of F&M we came to know best, our dear professors mentored us as we navigated academic and professional challenges. They cultivated our desire for knowledge and pushed us to embrace the unknown. Our professors guided us in our discoveries, advised us on our next steps, and watched us get better and better at procrastinating our work. They exposed us to ideas that influenced how we see our role in society and the world at large and simultaneously taught us the skills we need to reach our goals. We all have at least one professor in mind who challenged us to grow in ways we did not anticipate, transforming us into individuals who are better equipped to experience life after F&M.

And lastly, without the support of our families and chosen families we would not have been able to truly live the F&M experience, regardless of how different that was for each and every one of us. The people who are here today, either in person, virtually, or watching over us have been instrumental to our academic and personal development. I am personally most grateful for my mother’s unconditional support and countless sacrifices. I can promise you that I would not be standing here today without her guidance and love.

F&M gave us the foundation we needed to figure out how to approach the challenges we will encounter in our future. The knowledge and experiences that we have acquired, and relationships that we have developed during our time here gave us immense power. Now, we just have to make sure we use that power to do good.

Dear Class of 2023, congratulations!

2023 Williamson Medalist Nadezhda Ivanova

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