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Tomoko Sakomura at podium at commencement ceremony

Each year, through a competitive “speak-off,” the senior class votes for the student commencement speaker. This year, our graduates selected Nora Sweeney as the 2024 senior class speaker. 

Nora is an Honors Peace and Conflict Major, with minors in sociology/ anthropology and educational studies. She grew up in Washington, D.C., attending a “peace camp” every summer called Little Friends for Peace. At camp, she developed an interest in questions like, “How do you teach and educate toward peace?” and “How can you discover the root causes of conflict?” 

Transforming Intractable Conflict, taught by Professor of Peace & Conflict Studies Lee Smithey, inspired her to study-abroad in Northern Ireland in her junior year. Of this experience, Nora remarked, “​​My overwhelming sentiment was actually these countries are not so different after all.” However, she did notice one important difference. “What we would call ‘conflict’ in other countries, we call ‘social justice issues’ [in the U.S.]. The way we talk about things matters.”

During her time at Swarthmore, Nora worked in Admissions, including as head tour guide and a senior fellow, as well as in the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility. She has also served on the Student Life Committee, a green advisor, a Senior Class Officer, and played ultimate frisbee all four years at Swarthmore.

Please welcome Nora to the podium.