Eva Holman '07
Thank you so much for this honor. My heart is very full. I want to start by thanking my fellow Madame Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Together, she and I are breaking that glass ceiling and exposing it for what it really is — which, as we all know, is ignorance.
You know, a lot of people want to speak at graduation because they love attention. I am free of that base instinct. I am up here because I really do like Swarthmore, just to disclaim before I begin my speech. That I have to speak in public is an unfortunate side effect for someone as shy as I am.
But to return to my speech — which is a long and interesting one — I have been thinking a lot about Swarthmore, lately. And I just keep thinking about how Swarthmore — or, 'Swathmore,' as some people say, and that's fair, too — has changed me over the course of four years. And I guess to put it in my own words, it has really stretched my thinking, and challenged me. I mean, I'm just free associating here, but it has demonstrated to me this interest in facilitating and fostering ethical intelligence among exceptional young people via the quality and passion of its faculty. And I was thinking also about how Swarthmore is located 11 miles southwest of Philadelphia, on an idyllic, 357-acre campus. That's what I was thinking about. It was just another Saturday night.
But I do love Swarthmore. And you know why: it's because of the people. And I say this to spec parents when they go up to me and ask me whether they should send their children here. I say to them, "don't worry... I will take care of your sons."
And yes, there are some things I might have said in the heat of the moment that I wish I could take back. Some of you might recall that in my Phoenix column I might have called Swarthmore "a glorified squirrel museum." But that is just classic separation anxiety. I haven't taken any Psych classes, but I do consider myself to be a student of the mind.
Anyway, if I could turn back the clock, I would. I would be right back there at Orientation sweating like I am now in a heartbeat if that would mean just one more conversation in the amphitheater on a starry night.
And then there was Chocolates and Choosing. What a milestone that was. I mean, for me, it's Chocolates and Choosing and the birth of my kids, and that's it.
We can't have those good times back. But there are so many things out there that can help us feel like we're at Swarthmore all the time forever. I am personally of the belief that you can carry a little piece of Swarthmore with you wherever you go.
Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Eva... this robe don't have pockets. How am I supposed to carry Swarthmore with me? How? How?"
That's a good question. And I guess to clarify, you can't literally take Swarthmore and carry it with you, because the technology for that has not been invented yet.
Though I was thinking that I would love to just take this amphitheater and stuff it in my purse, as it would especially come in handy in New York City, where the coffee is so expensive. So I was thinking that in a few months I'll be at Starbucks and I'll order my drink and the barista will be like, "Yeah, that really tiny cup of regular coffee is $4.00." And instead of paying I could reach over to my purse... unzip it, and then be like "AMPHITHEATER ATTACK! AHH!"
I'd like to say that that joke killed at the Speak-Off, but it really didn't. I just included it because I thought it was important.
So, if my speech were to have a point — and it does — it's that I really am going to miss this place, and not just because of Chocolates and Choosing and other such milestones. I mean, we all know that chocolate, like nationhood, is a construct. Benedict Anderson: citation.
I am rather going to miss Swarthmore for all the lesser-known moments I have shared with my classmates. I knew from the beginning I was lucky to be a member of the class of 2007 — well, kind of — but it was impressed upon me recently, of course when I am about to leave, how open-hearted, sympathetic and supportive they are. It really is almost beyond my comprehension. I am sure that you are going to go on to great things, but most important, I know that you will continue to be true friends and show others in your life the same trust, good humor and support you have shown me over four years.
It is difficult, especially because I am such a hard-ass, to admit how much it hurts to be leaving you, and not just those of you I will often call on my Razr phone. I only talk on Razrs. I really hope we won't be afraid to stay in touch with those who are important to us, even if we've only enjoyed with them the occasional brief conversation. I am honored to represent you and will miss you deeply.
Oh, and one more thing: I want to impress upon you that like it or not, we are living in a world that is increasingly globalized, and yes, it is complex. And maybe things are more confusing than they've ever been. But I want to say to you that as I look out on this sea of caps and gowns, perhaps it is not that we aren't ready for the world... perhaps it is the world which is not ready for Swarthmore.
And don't forget to thank the parents!