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Lauren B. Rankin of Pennington N.J.,
Chosen 2001 Commencement Speaker at Wellesley College

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- Following in the footsteps of New York State Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (the first student commencement speaker at Wellesley College in 1969), Lauren B. Rankin has earned the honor of addressing the Class of 2001 at the college's 123rd commencement.

A film studies major, she is the daughter of John and Lynne Rankin of Pennington, N.J. During her years at Wellesley, she served as co-president of the Film Society and as the Class of 2001 Songmistress. She has been a music and news announcer on radio station WZLY and served on the Pomeroy House Council as vice president and secretary. An assistant photo editor for The Wellesley News student paper, she was co-president of the Wellesley Environmental Board. After graduation, she will work as a producer at Cablevision Editorials in Edison, N.J. 

Here is the speech she delivered at Wellesley College on June 1:

Hello to the Alumnae Class of 2001. You know Alumnae Hall? Yeah, that's named after us.

We're all thinking forward today. We're thinking about not tripping on the way up to get our diplomas, first and foremost. We're thinking about the people around us, and how we're not going to see them in class or in the dining hall anymore. We're worried about keeping in touch with friends.

At, they suggest always mentioning that commencement means beginning. At, she suggests mentioning… beer. And at, he suggests having the audience close their eyes while breathing in and out, noticing their energy and life. I'm taking a wild chance here and going off on my own. Please bear with me.

I want you to remember your very first days at
Wellesley -- back when you didn't know which Pendleton was east or west and thought the Tower Court Mixer must be held in Tower Court. Remember how everyone's face looked so unfamiliar? How do they look now? We had all made the same decision: to attend an all-girls school. Funny how now we're graduating from a women's college.

Remember your first time around the lake. Being able to see the
tower from the other side of it, and how that made you feel.

Remember the first time you got an A. The first time you didn't get an A. The realization that everyone around you was just as smart as you.

I want you to remember the horror that you felt the first time you saw the science center. The tears that welled up in your eyes when you realized that some people live there.

Remember what it felt like to get a big sister. What it felt like to
become a big sister. What it felt like to try to relate to your little sister's little sister's little sister.

Remember how funny the name Paramecium Pond used to sound.
Now you're thinking of naming your first child Paramecium.

Remember your first time in Café Hoop. When you looked around
at the scribbled-on walls, and the couches, and the fish, and the Ken dolls, and thought, 'I'm going to make it at this school after all.'

Remember the way that snow looks under the light of a Wellesley lantern. Traying down Severance Hill... sunset on Green Beach… I could go on and on. We all want to go on-four more years, collecting more memories, learning new things and making new friends. But it's time for us to leave. It's hard, but it's time. We are joining the ranks of thousands of women who call themselves Wellesley alumnae. It's a group I'm proud to be a part of.

Wellesley sisterhood is an amazing thing. I feel an incredible urge to
talk to and help and know anyone who went here. It doesn't matter whether I knew her when we were students. There's a bond there that I can't explain.

At the end of my sophomore year, my world fell apart when my sister died. One of the only things that kept me going was the constant and unwavering support that I received from people at Wellesley. Some people I didn't even know wrote me cards and letters. I remember one of them said, 'We're not as good, we're not as special, and we're never going to take Amy's place in your heart; but please know that when you come back to school, you'll have 2300
sisters who love you waiting for you.'

I'm never going to forget my time at Wellesley. I've made the best friends of my life. I love each and every one of you, and I always will.

We may be graduating, but that doesn't mean that our bond will end. It means that I will have 2300 sisters -- and more -- out there in the world. Some will go to graduate school in Boston. Some will go into the Peace Corps. Doctors. Teachers. Consultants. Activists. Mothers. Consultants. Filmmakers.
Consultants. We will all bear new titles and new roles. But wherever you go and whatever you do, remember your real job. It's not just to make a difference in the world. It's to make a different world. We all have the power to do that. Wellesley didn't give us that power, it just showed us that it was there.

We will never forget the lessons we've learned here. We are Wellesley Women, and no one can ever take that away from us. No one can ever take away our knowledge, our confidence, and our strength. Wellesley has changed us. Now it's time for us to go and change the world. It's time for us to crown thy good with sisterhood.

Take your diploma, go out there, and come back to our reunions proud of the fact that you have made a difference. I wish you all the best of luck, and I thank you for giving me the best days of my life.


2001 Commencement Web Site

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  • Date Modified: August 2, 2001
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