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~Wellesley College Class of 2001 Hears Messages For Peace and Responsibility
Speaker Jehan Sadat Discusses Hope for Peace in the Middle Easat~

For immediate release:
June 1, 2001


Arlie Corday
(781) 283-3321

WELLESLEY, Mass. -Make a difference by working for peace and taking responsibility for making the world a better place. That was the message at Wellesley College's 123rd Commencement Friday, June 1, as Jehan Sadat, an internationally recognized human rights activist, told members of the Class of 2001 and their guests about her lifelong mission for peace in the Middle East. The widow of assassinated Egyptian president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Anwar Sadat, Dr. Sadat is a resident scholar at the University of Maryland, where she helped to establish the Anwar Sadat Chair for Development and Peace.

"[The education of women] is the key to success, not just for women but also for their families and ultimately for nations…. For the sake of yourselves and the generations that follow, never stop learning. Never stop searching for cures for the ills of society. Never close your eyes to the suffering of others," said Sadat. "Go forth with minds yearning to learn, hearts full of compassion and love, and hands willing to build bridges to peace."

Although she did not comment on specifically on current events in the Middle East, Sadat remained hopeful about the future. "I can honestly and sincerely tell you that I believe a just, durable, and comprehensive peace will come to the Middle East. It may not be this week, this month, or even next year, but it will come," she said. "In my heart, I believe as my husband believed, that peace will prevail when our hearts set the path for our heads and hands to follow."

Wellesley College conferred bachelor of arts degrees upon 581 graduates, including 102 who received departmental honors and 122 cum laude, 106 magna cum laude and 46 summa cum laude honors.

President Diana Chapman Walsh told the class it was time to make its mark in the world.

"Now it's your turn to work out what impact you will have, and where, and how it will matter," she said. Referring to Wellesley's 125th anniversary this year, she challenged the class to return in another 25 years with new stories to tell about "women who have taken on the establishment in bold and exciting ways."

Walsh provided a keepsake for each graduate: a copy of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. "I hope you'll keep this declaration, tied with a ribbon, as a symbol of the strings that are attached to your diploma, as a reminder, always, that with rights come responsibilities to preserve the institutions of freedom; with privileges come duties to others less fortunate than you; with wisdom comes an obligation to use your knowledge in the cause of justice; with power comes the opportunity to remove that which subverts love," she said.

Student commencement speaker Lauren Rankin of Pennington, N.J., continued a tradition that began in 1969 when now Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton offered the first such speech. Rankin reflected on the sisterly connections she came to cherish at Wellesley.

"At the end of my sophomore year, my world fell apart when my sister died," she said. "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.'"


Wellesley College is a prominent liberal arts college and has been a leader in the education of women for 125 years. The College's 500-acre campus near Boston is home to about 2,300 undergraduate students. Wellesley's distinguished alumnae include former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Madame Chiang Kai-shek, and broadcast journalists Cokie Roberts, Diane Sawyer, and Lynn Sherr.


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  • Date Modified: July 31, 2001
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