(light music) – [Calla] To the class of 2020, in perhaps one of the most heartbreaking, confusing and strange ways, we are on the brink of graduating from Carleton I think I can safely say that none of us could’ve expected to be saying goodbye to friends, professors, and staff in such a disjointed and distanced way Being away from campus and each other has made me reflect on all the factors that shaped my experience at Carleton As I reflect on my time here, and what it is has meant to me, I keep coming back to the same thing: the people The students, professors and staff really made Carleton what it is The friends and mentors I have found here have forever changed my life for the better My friends and I have laughed together at Cujokra shows, been amazed at EDB and Whoa! performances, comforted one another in times of disappointment and sorrow and beamed with pride during each other’s Comps presentations, even if it was through a screen on Zoom The memories I have with my friends, simply spending time together in Sayles, or enjoying a warm day on The Bald Spot are some of my most cherished moments at Carleton Most importantly, though, my friends have challenged me, and really challenged me The peers I’ve met at Carleton have questioned my preconceived notions and harmful assumptions by inviting me to attend a thought-provoking convo, or talking with me about an article they read and discussed for a class They sharpened my ability to think critically about the world in which we live, and demand much better than the status quo With the guidance and support from my friends, classmates and professors, I’ve considered whose voices are missing from conversations, both in the present and the past, and spoken out for constructive and meaningful change How can we make spaces not just more inclusive, but more equitable and just? I often think back to long, late night talks with friends that range from discussing disappointing inaction from the college, to how to organize campus around social injustices, such as racism, classism, xenophobia, homophobia, ableism, sexism, and settler colonialism, just to name a few These conversations are some of my most memorable and impactful times at Carleton, not because of the pain we experienced as a community at the hands of those in power, but because of the strength, bravery and persistence exhibited by the students who refused to be silent and complicit We need our campus to change for the better, and many people have stepped up to lead and take action, which is amazing and inspiring, because there’s a lot of work to be done The class of 2020 is filled with people who are innovative, compassionate, intelligent, funny, empathetic, wise, and kind Our time at Carleton was challenging, academically, yes, but also personally, politically, spiritually, and emotionally We are leaving college as very different people than how we entered it in the fall of 2016 There is an immense amount of uncertainty about what lies ahead, and it’s hard to grapple with the fact that we cannot simply return to our old lives However, this is the time to use those critical thinking skills we developed in college to question if what we considered normal before was ever what we really wanted We now have the unique chance to not just hypothetically envision, but actually redefine, reimagine, and recreate a society that works for everyone, and prioritizes those who have long been forgotten and silenced This time is intense and emotional, but also revolutionary, and knowing the class of 2020 is entering this moment, does not make me worried, but rather, hopeful, and even a little excited (inspirational music) – Congratulations to the class of 2020, the largest class of first years assembled at Carleton It has been my pleasure and distinct honor to serve as your Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, and to be on this journey with you the last four years We had to think long and hard about our residential facilities to house all of you, the number of A&Is to offer When you arrived in Northfield, threats of rain came with you The rain shifted your Frisbee throw to the Rec Center, and let’s just say your start was unique During your four years, I celebrated with you many of your successes and failures,

and attended many of your events You even helped me with a skill or two The bridge tournament in Atlanta, athletic events, attempts at perfecting a Frisbee throw, convocation on Fridays, a visit or two to the Sci-Fi House, late-night breakfasts, Comfort Food Friday at TRIO, PossePlus retreats, Pure Leader training, Comps, and a perfect record in broomball, if I say so myself And the last several months have been uniquely yours, as well This is a daunting time to graduate from any college or university in the country It’s a daunting time to transition, however, your Carleton education has prepared you for this moment Our faculty have challenged you to be critical thinkers, to question, to go beyond the surface Our staff have provided experiential learning that marry the theoretical with the practical, and provide you with life skills that will take you beyond the bubble that is Carleton, and your peers have been with you each step of the way I won’t profess to know how all of you are feeling right now, but I know, certainly, how I feel as a Black woman who is the mother of three children, in particular, a 12 year-old son, and wife to a Black man My core has been rocked, in ways that are unimaginable, and at times, I have been at a loss for words, and while this is your moment, your celebration, your graduation, my words to you have to acknowledge your reality, our reality, my reality, and what is it that you’re being asked to do? What is it that we are being asked to do? I have borrowed words from others to formulate the remaining thoughts to you I hope that Mary J. Blige, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, David Shane, Anthony Fauci, Tim Cook and Barack Obama don’t mind, and as I mentioned before, this is a confusing and daunting time to be in our country and this world, but for you, the Carleton class of 2020, I need you to know not how to put the pieces back together again, but how to create a new and more evolved normal, a world more just, kind, beautiful, tender, creative and whole During this pandemic, those of us who can look back on this time and remember inconveniences and even boredom can count themselves lucky Many more will know real hardships and fear, the food insecurity, the distracted learning, the undocumented and low income realities Mary J. Blige said, “We have to slow down to receive this amazing gift and blessing called more time.” Time was flying, but not anymore This was what was needed to prepare us for the future More than ever, this is your moment, this is your generation’s world to shape You’ve got more tools, technology and talents than my generation did You’ve got more role models, more road maps, more resources than the Civil Rights generation did No generation has been better positioned to be warriors for justice, and to remake the world Don’t stand in place Memorialize in your heart the ways in which these times revealed what really matters, the health and wellbeing of our loved ones, the resilience of our communities, and the sacrifices made by many Pursue every ambition, go as far as you can possibly dream and be the first generation to embrace a new responsibility, a responsibility to rebuild your community Class of 2020, the world has changed You will determine how we rebuild, and I ask that you make your community your priority This moment is your invitation to use your education to begin to heal our afflictions, to apply the best of what you’ve learned in your head and felt in your heart I will leave you with the words from one of my favorite songs, “Blessing.” My kids are fortunate to be a part of the Northfield Youth Choir, and at the end of their spring concert, they sing a song that always warms my heart, and stirs my emotions The words are very simple “May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be always at your back May the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rains fall soft upon your face Until we meet again, my friend, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.” Be dreamers, Carls, because if we’re in service of our dreams versus our dreams being in service to us, it becomes something greater Now the hard work begins Congratulations again, class of 2020 Stay in touch, and see you soon (inspirational music) – Greetings to all of you from campus Students, we miss you I hope that you and your loved ones are all healthy and safe Before I say anything more, let me say this Congratulations, we’re very proud of you This has been and continues to be

an extraordinarily sad and challenging spring There are several things I want you to hear from me today, and to take to heart, about the global pandemic and public health, about the ongoing trauma of racism in this nation, and about you, each of you, individually and you as an admirably intelligent and empowered collective, the Carleton class of 2020 Here you are, degrees complete, and despite the artificial distances imposed upon you, still virtually and vitally linked together, arm-in-arm, and of one unified spirit This isn’t the last time we’re going to recognize your academic achievements and degrees When we next assemble, it will be for a real graduation ceremony, not a simulacrum And a major part of what we’ll also honor, on that day, will be your character Your Class is going to be a legendary class at Carleton, not because of something that happened while you were here, but because of how you came together amidst so much tumult, with such integrity and resilience “We are still together” is a powerful and wise refrain your Class has taken up, and “We are still together” is a refrain that I hope proves prescient, as well Our country, and indeed, our world, are in desperate need of cooperation and collaboration, of togetherness Our campus, your home for these last four years, remains shut down as the COVID-19 pandemic rages, disproportionately impacting the poor, the disadvantaged and persons of color One of the greatest public health crises in a century, the virus is laying bare inequities and intensifying cultural divides in the U.S. and around the globe Lives have been upended, and more than 40 million Americans are currently out of work in an economic recession We’ve had to social distance, isolating ourselves from the comfort and care of friends and loved ones The spectre of future pandemics looms, exacerbated by human- caused climate change Then, amidst all this churning, last month, right up the road from Northfield, Minneapolis Police Department officers murdered George Floyd Mr. Floyd’s killing was not an aberration, far from it It is essential for all of us, particularly those of us who are vested with various kinds of privilege to try to grasp the enormity of lives lost to racism over hundreds of years in this nation For we are rooted in an unending cycle of violence directed at persons of color, especially Black men and women, who already bear the legacy of centuries of enslavement and racial violence Apart from communities of color that have always lived with fear and exhaustion and have often been silenced, America has been shamefully slow in recognizing the need for change, and in acting in concrete and measurable ways to eradicate racism I’m proud of the many Carleton students, faculty, staff and alumni who are doing their part right now by peacefully protesting It is your constitutional right to do so, and much relies upon the exercise of this right We are called in the most direct of ways to unflinchingly face profoundly troubling questions about police brutality, violence in our society, and about both personal and institutionalized racism whether it be in anger, in fear, in guilt, or in confusion or in hope, we must face these questions together While each of us must seriously examine our own individual role and function in our culture, identifying the blind spots from which we suffer, the prejudices we carry, and the range of our personal responsibility, we cannot do this except in relationship, and through honest, uncomfortable dialogue with each other Likewise, we must acknowledge the racism embedded

in the structures of those institutions with which we are affiliated, and where we work or study This must and will include Carleton And as each of us make this accounting, we must also take actions, both large and small, in our homes, in our communities and in our careers, that rectify wrongs, and begin to heal We must take actions as swiftly and as wisely as we can, grounded in a commitment to transcend the hatred and ignorance that tear us apart, and I fervently hope that we will do this together Amidst so much suffering and pain this spring, amidst so much divisive language and violence, it is therefore humbling to me that your Class is still so together Stay this way, support each other, check in on each other, network, share ideas, form new alliances, professional and personal that reflect your values and the world you want to create Despite geographical distance, stay close, get closer Launching from Carleton into the wider world may seem especially daunting today, but never forget that you have lifelong friendships, and the common experience of these four years of hard work and growth, to steady and guide you You have faculty and staff mentors and tens of thousands of alumni who are dedicated to you A strong sense of the collective, of the ties that connect us is something you have embodied this spring, and also across your four years here In your pursuit of a superb undergraduate education, each of you has drawn on crucial support from your parents, families and loved ones, from Carleton faculty and staff None of you has reached this milestone alone Though this isn’t the senior spring you wanted, or that you worked so hard for, though this isn’t yet the commencement you deserve, it is still a signal rite of passage I encourage you, as you are able, to take the time both to seriously and quietly reflect upon this, and to celebrate this in your respective homes, among your friends and family What does it mean, a rite of passage? You’re transitioning from one stage of life to another You are about to take on greater responsibilities in your careers, and to tackle next levels of academic challenge I hope that many of you will become thought leaders who push back the boundaries of knowledge and understanding and citizen leaders who wisely shape public policy Your time here and the hard work you’ve done have empowered you to do this, and our faith and our confidence in you is unbounded Your degrees demonstrate and testify to your critical thinking, to your ability to synthesize complex and disparate information, making connections across disciplines This is the beauty and the power of your liberal arts learning at Carleton, for the solutions to the really vexing and transcendent issues, public health, climate change, racism, all of these must draw on the insights of many different intellectual fields and modes of thought You are also empowered because you understand the limits of your own knowledge, yet you remain driven by curiosity, to keep growing and learning That blend of humility and passion will serve you brilliantly And finally, in the process of earning your degrees, you have empowered yourselves to lead fulfilling and impactful lives that will make the world a better place Be ever mindful of the duties and responsibilities we owe to each other No act is a small act Everything we do and say is manifest, and affects the lives of others The world is deeply and inextricably connected

This has always been so, but now, we are called to see and to act upon it, as never before Let me stop here, and turn to the critical business at hand and the reason why you are listening to these remarks in the first place It is time to formally award your degrees By the authority vested in me by the State of Minnesota, and the Trustees of Carleton College, I hereby confer upon you the degree of Bachelor of Arts, together with all of the rights, responsibilities and privileges pertaining thereto I look forward to the day when I can shake your hands in person, and reiterate how proud we are of you Do take heart, class of 2020 There is much joy to experience in the days and years ahead of you, and there are so many brave and decent people in this world For now, I will give you my traditional graduation send-off, which you’ll surely hear from me again next year Good luck and Godspeed (inspirational music) (upbeat music) – [Moderator] Start clapping, people (group applauding) – Hey! – Yay! – Woohoo! – Greetings, class of 2020 – So, you’ve graduated, huh? – You did it! Congratulations, I’m so proud of you – We are so proud of you! Mom and Dad are so proud of you, Eric – And so is Joe! Say hello, Joe! – I just wanted to say thank you, thank you so much for setting a good example for your siblings – Congratulations, Carleton College class of 2020! Probably not the world you were expecting to graduate in, that’s okay, ’cause you’re gonna figure it out, ’cause you have a liberal arts degree – I’ve really enjoyed the chance to get to know so many of you I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for you – We are so inspired by your care of each other, and your commitment to making our world a better place You give us hope – Our newest German program member, My daughter, Freya, and I wish you an exciting journey from here on out With curious people on the way, who will enrich your lives and with those phenomenal ups and the inevitable downs that make life what life is, an often surreal adventure that will all have been worth it in the end – It’s important to know that you are the only one that’s going to be able to set the bar for what you achieve in life So set it high – Recreate Carleton wherever you go, in whatever you do – You’ve done something in an incredibly unprecedented time and you deserve all the kudos that Carleton and all of us in the Alumni Association can give you – I’ll miss your curveball questions, your keen insights, and your wacky senses of humor – And I wish I could give you a hug, to say, again, thanks for the time together I enjoyed it so much I look forward to seeing how you keep us proud in the future But this hug will have to be virtual, even though the sentiments are all too real – I’m excited to celebrate your achievements next year in 2021 I know, in the meantime, you all are gonna do amazing things and spread your knowledge, insight, and talents across the world – Do good work, keep in touch, and change this world – I love you, and I can’t wait for you to get back home and to give you a big hug Congratulations, buddy, you did it! – Thank you for everything you contributed to campus, thank you for setting the world on fire ahead of you, and I am so, so proud of you – We know that this is not what you wanted it to be like, but great things are still to come, we love you so much, and again, again, a big congratulations – Congratulations, class of 2020 – Congratulations, class of 2020 – Congratulations – Congratulations – Congratulations – Congratulations – We are so very proud of you Stay safe, stay healthy, take care of each other – And don’t be a stranger, and always remember that Carleton has your back – You’re probably not gonna miss our dumb jokes, but we’re really going to miss you So please keep in touch, and please come visit us soon – Your professors are so proud of all that you’ve accomplished and we wish you the very best We can’t wait to give you hugs and high fives when you finally get back to campus, whether it’s for graduation next year, reunions after that, or just to stop by and say hi I’ll be waiting right here for you In the meantime, keep in touch (inspirational music) ♪ O Carleton, our Alma Mater ♪

♪ We hail the maize and blue ♪ ♪ Thy name is ever dearest ♪ ♪ Thy children ever true ♪ ♪ O Carleton, our Alma Mater ♪ ♪ To thee we sing our praise ♪ ♪ For thee we fight ♪ ♪ To thee we pledge ♪ ♪ The strength of all our days ♪ (“Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068” by J.S. Bach) (heartfelt orchestral music) (heartfelt piano music) (gentle piano music)