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Tolulope Banjo '22

Tolu Banjo

Tolulope Banjo '22 speaking at Last Collection

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Hey, class of 2022. I hope you all have been soaking in the last days of your undergraduate career. First and foremost, I would like to thank the faculty, staff, and community members who have committed their time and effort in making this event possible. I would also like to thank the EVS technicians, such as Marge and Arleta, and the Sharples dining staff who cheered me and pushed me along the way. Huge thanks to my friends, Kohlberg 236, my family, and my professors who have supported me in this journey.

In the fall of 2018, I don't think any of us could have imagined how these last four years have unfolded before our eyes. And if you know me personally, you know my favorite words to describe this whole experience would be, interesting. As in, sometimes there are some things that are indescribable. With that being said, I think our experiences here can speak to what I mean by that. So let's start with the radical end of our first year here in 2019, where students put themselves on the line to advocate through protests for the voice of survivors of sexual violence, to be heard by Swarthmore's administration. These nationally covered protests resulted in the disillusion of fraternities on this campus forever, or at least for the time being.

After an uneasy spring break, we received an email alerting us that we would not be able to return to campus. If you remember, that was our sophomore year. This was due to the ongoing pandemic, which has stolen over six million lives to date. As a result of the changes to the semester because of the pandemic, students came together to fight for universal pass of all classes for all students. As we know, there were divisions amongst ourselves and not everyone agreed with this resolution. However, at the end of the day, we came to the conclusion that this was an unprecedented time that was beyond any of our capabilities.

Shortly at the end of that semester, we entered into a period of racial reckoning, where protests erupted all over the country against police brutality. It had, at that moment in time, galvanized some of the largest protests in recorded history. Particularly at Swat, we saw the creation of blackatswat Instagram page, an effort to acknowledge the racial experiences of our peers and community members. Then in the fall of 2020, the TriCo community came together and enacted a strike, an effort to address the systemic failures of our institution for students of color and advocate for change. Throughout all of these things, the one thing that has kept us going is community.

As a community, we have been hurt. We struggled, we fought, we did everything necessary to make our voices heard. I don't wish to bring up these painful memories for the sake of it. Instead, I hope to urge us to reflect on what these events have meant to our college experience, to our transformations of self, and how we are in community with each other. What have we learned here? Who have we become? How have we persevered through all of this? How can we find a way to come together again, after everything we've been through? And yet somehow, we find a way. I'm encouraged by the community I found here, but I know there's still work to be done. I urge you all in your future endeavors to pour into others, care for others, create those communities you visually wish to see. In the same vein, I hope you forgive yourselves. Maybe you didn't make the best choices while you were here. Don't hold onto these mistakes, but promise to do better.

As you close this chapter, remember all the lessons you've learned here. Use them to find your pencil and begin crafting the next part of your story. Believe in yourself, and I hope you find people that also believe in you. Thank you everyone for the last four years. It was certainly one for the books. Hopefully we cross paths again, but if not, I wish you the best in your future endeavors. I hope you all can look back on this time and be proud of yourselves for making it out and looking forward to brighter days ahead. Congratulations 2022 and I will see you on the other side.