These words were shared to open the Rally Day convocation on Wednesday, February 21, 2018.
Welcome students, faculty, staff, seniors and alumnae to Rally Day 2018. Rally Day began as a commemoration of President’s Day, but in true Smith style our has evolved over the generations with its own twist. We rally not in observance of a national holiday but for the trailblazers in our own midst.
Today is a day or reflection and appreciation—we appreciate—an act often so gravely absent in these inequitable, troubled, and troubling times—the bold and diverse accomplishments of our five Smith alumnae medalists and members of our community who have proven themselves as exemplary, whose acts of bravery and kindness have emboldened and inspired us.
Today you, seniors, begin to reflect on who you have been these four years and who you will be when you leave Smith, beginning to cultivate what should be a lifelong habit of reflection on where you have been and where you are going, may you rediscover this urgently needed practice in our frenzied world.
I urge you to listen closely to the stories of those being celebrated today—of activism, community organizing, travels into war zones—for inspiration, and also for tropes of obstacles, frustration, and even failure. For we are not made great, any of us, by what comes easily, but by how we grapple with the adversities of our own unique lives.
Today more, than ever—we need heroes, who have created lives we can look to, draw strength from, imagine walking beside and among, to help us unravel the dense web of violence in our world. We celebrate today the ways that this institution has helped to cultivate the grit and determination for them to be them and you to be you—for you are Smith—trans, queer, of color, first generation, courageous, shy, scared, vivacious, tired, discouraged, energetic, and exemplary—all in varied and rich and unique combinations.
In the words of Ruby Bridges, who spoke here earlier this month,
“You don’t need to have a path; if there is no path, start a trail.”
Let us reflect, appreciate, and celebrate this community of trail blazers, and this institution that nurtured them, and at our best, cultivates the hero in all of us. Let us begin.