‘Seek inspiration in one another’

A collection of stories covering Harvard University’s 373rd Commencement.

In his first Baccalaureate address, interim President Alan M. Garber praised the fortitude and resilience of students in the Class of 2024, who entered Harvard amid a pandemic and national turmoil in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and are ending their undergraduate years as war in the Middle East divides people around the world.

“From the moment you arrived on a half-empty campus with a half-full attitude, you made the best of things — and the best of one another and yourselves,” Garber said Tuesday at Tercentenary Theatre. “Seeing you thrive despite unpredictable and unfortunate circumstances has been, for me, a constant source of energy and optimism.

“So, if there is wisdom I can offer as you prepare to leave Harvard College, it is this: Seek inspiration in one another.”

Garber reminisced about his own undergraduate class, noting both his classmates’ successes — personal and professional — and their disappointments in the decades since College life.

“What I have found in my years since graduating is that few endeavors are more entertaining, or sometimes surprising, than watching your classmates succeed,” he said. “After all, you knew them as they once were, lit from within by youthful ambition and eager to conquer the world after graduation — or, perhaps, just stupefied by scrolling TikTok all afternoon.” 

“From the moment you arrived on a half-empty campus with a half-full attitude, you made the best of things — and the best of one another and yourselves.”

Alan Garber

The Baccalaureate ceremony dates back to Harvard’s inaugural Commencement in 1642. The event includes an address by the University president and blessings imparted by several chaplains and student speakers. A procession of seniors is led by class marshals as graduates make their way through the Old Yard to the steps of Widener Library before settling in Tercentenary Theatre.

The Rev. Matthew Ichihashi Potts, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church, conducted Tuesday’s service. “You graduates gathered in this place—you are the answers to ancient prayers, the wishes of long lost people,” Potts told students as the ceremony began. “You are your ancestors’ dreams come finally true. But it’s not just the past that lives in you; the future lives in you also.”

Tercentenary Theatre during the Baccalaureate ceremony.

Also offering encouragement and benediction to the grads was humanist chaplain Greg Epstein. “You’re here graduating from Harvard, so take a deep breath,” he said. “Not because you’ve earned it. You should never have to earn breath. You deserve it, because you are human.”

Garber urged students to maintain the friendships they made at the College while working to heal from the wounds the community has suffered in the last year.

“What happens after any Commencement will always be a mix of sun and shade, triumph and failure, joy and sorrow,” said Garber. “Your final assignment, if I can impose upon you, is to cheer and support one another through it all, whatever may come. There is no greater comfort than keeping ties with those who knew you when.”

He continued: “May the losses of this year — of human life and of human connection — of sympathy and empathy — of care — be for all of you — for all of us — an impetus to advance rather than retreat, shining brightly in shadow, and brighter still through darkness.”

Get the best of the Gazette delivered to your inbox

By subscribing to this newsletter you’re agreeing to our privacy policy

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top