I’d encourage you to be mindful that transitional periods are precious and that nothing ever settles completely. It’s fine and good to strive for professional and personal goals—you will get there. But don’t waste the time between now and then wishing, waiting, fixed on the receding horizon.
Yes, you will have to work hard (sometimes). Your degree is, of course, a sign of the hard work you’re capable of doing. And it’s also a sign of our belief in you. Trust us. We see you; we know you. It won’t always be easy, but you can do hard things.
And too, this time right now is precious, this life, this moment. Enjoy when you can, be brave when you must, and stay in touch!
Always have a book you are reading for pleasure
To you, our 2020 graduates, I recall a moment from Toni Morrison's 2004 commencement address at Wellesley College. In it, Morrison admits hesitation to talk about the future, at least "not while finite humans make infinite claims of virtue and unassailable power that are beyond their competence," nor of a past that is "already in debt to the mismanaged present." Instead, she offers a trite wish that, quite frankly, feels more acute for you right now than it ever has: "What is now known is not all that you are capable of knowing. You are your own stories and therefore free to imagine and experience what it means to be human without wealth. What it feels like to be human without domination over others, without reckless arrogance, without fear of others unlike you, without rotating, rehearsing and reinventing the hatreds you learned in the sandbox. And although you don’t have complete control over the narrative (no author does, I can tell you), you could nevertheless create it." My heartiest congratulations to you all!
I will miss all of you very much. Some of us have traveled to Bath, England together; some of us have discussed precepting matters together; some of us have explored women writers and creative writing together. All of us have loved reading and writing, and have inspired each other. Please come back soon and often! You make our lives meaningful and we can't wait to hear what you do next!
Prof. Hartman (Kabi)
Like you, I've been mourning the normal final rush of the semester, the rhythms of Springtime, and the chance to bask in your glow before you zip out and away on your varied and eccentric trajectories. For better or worse you won't forget these weeks, and I won't forget you. It's been a joy and a privilege to work with and get to know so many of you and watch you develop into textual magicians and cultural mavens. I can't wait until we meet again in different--and, I hope, easier--times. Until then, I raise my distanced glass to you all!
Congratulations, and bravo: you've completed college, and you did it by studying something you love! Keep honoring your true selves, wherever they take you. The world needs what you've got.
You've been an excellent and daring bunch; you inspired us, you taught us, you enriched our classrooms and perspectives, you always made 3rd Keiper a place of encounters, conversations, conversions, transformations and discoveries--and there can be no farewell to these, only new beginnings and a comma in the sentence of your life you are writing. And we in the English Department are proud to have contributed a word or two to that sentence. Indeed, English at F&M is now part of your heritage and inheritance, and with that I leave you with this African American proverb: "Every shut eye ain't sleep, every goodbye ain't gone." Congratulations!
I embraced the witty quotes of Mark Twain while working with that great Professor of English, Jeff Steinbrink. His love of all things Mark Twain was unmatched in the department. The following seems to be the most fitting as you leave to start your post-F&M life:
The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.
Oh, and by the way, I'm still working on the latter part of that quote.
Deb Saporetti '91, Academic Department Coordinator