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Valedictory Address - Isabel Anna Block '19

Isabel Anna Block '19

Isabel Anna Block '19

Friday, May 24, 2019
Isabel Anna Block '19

Dr. McAuliffe, President Boroughs, Provost Freije, Dean Maurer, Members of the Board of Trustees, Honored Guests, Faculty and Staff, Parents, Relatives and Friends, Fellow Members of the Class of 2019; 我以无限的自豪和荣幸欢迎你们,与你们共享今天这个里程碑的庆祝活 动。It is with utmost pride and deepest pleasure that I welcome you all here today to share in the celebration of this milestone.

Before I commence my speech, I would like to first recognize two beloved people who cannot be here physically, but are surely here in our hearts and prayers. Joshua Pellerin and Henry Carr, your legacies live on through the people gathered today whose lives are better having had you in them.

Being a Mathematics and Chinese double major, I am accustomed to complex formulas and foreign concepts. It turns out there is no formula for writing a valedictory address and this process was foreign to me, but I was not unprepared because I have received a Holy Cross liberal arts education. That means, my interdisciplinary training has prepared me to stand on this stage and deliver a speech with a message that I hope resonates with each and every one of you.

In many fields of Mathematics, there are fundamental theorems, such as the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, that are incredibly profound because they provide a foundation for proving so many other propositions and theorems. Today, our goal is to prove a recently discovered Fundamental Theorem called The Fundamental Theorem of Holy Cross’s Class of 2019.

The theorem states the following: Define the legacy of a student, denoted by the letter l, to be the direct or indirect influence of that student not only on the lives of others, but also on the world. Then, for any student x of Holy Cross’s Class of 2019, the legacy of x is infinite.

Perhaps we could prove this using induction, maybe proof by contradiction, but instead, we need only to look at the impactful endeavors we have embarked on, the countless accomplishments we have achieved, and the direction of our lives after Holy Cross.

On Saturday, August 29th, 2015, a swarm of smiling faces initiated us into the Holy Cross community by carrying our belongings from our cars into our new home, which for me meant up to the fourth floor of Hanselman. It was this welcoming and supportive community that helped us navigate a new place, surrounded by new people, all while being academically challenged in ways that none of us had anticipated. Like many of you, I doubted that I would be able to do the work, but together we eagerly stepped into the role of a crusader and battled it out with time management, late nights in Dinand, figuring out what the expectations were for a college paper, and trying to manage our ever-fleeting supply of Dining Dollars.

Once settled in, we spread ourselves thinner by channeling our academic and extracurricular interests into involvement with different clubs and organizations. The students in these seats can tell you about how they found a love of travelling and trying new things during their time abroad, or about how they founded organizations, such as PyCoding, where they inspired local Worcester students to use technology to advance themselves. They can tell you that being a Theatre major became a gateway into a supportive second family, or that being involved in athletics not only made them stronger competitors, both on and off the field, but also taught them how to stand up for each other. I urge you to ask about their many service involvements, because if you do you will learn about how they helped to continue the legacy of two Holy Cross alumni by organizing 26 build sites for Working for Worcester, or how they served as leaders on Spring Break Immersion trips to places like Chicago, New Orleans, Louisville, and St. Louis. Through our classes and these activities, we made unbreakable bonds with our peers; friendships that, unlike our many assignments, have no deadline.

What is most impressive about the Class of 2019 is the way in which those of us graduating today have taken stands against injustices and fought for the betterment of this school and the world around us. Whether it be through providing bus transportation to voting centers, participating in and helping to organize the sit-in in Fenwick to change the campus culture, attending the vigil after the tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, raising voices to advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community, or by confronting and challenging institutionalized racism, the members of Holy Cross’s Class of 2019 have shown unwavering courage, strength, and unity. My favorite quote, which I like to think of as my moral backbone, comes from Elie Wiesel. In my own experience dealing with anti-Semitism, his words have given me clarity about my role as a member of the Jewish community and as a human being. Wiesel said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Never have any of us had the chance to be surrounded by so many activists and advocates who are committed to making this school and the world beyond a better place, than we are right here, right now. The members of this class refuse to be silent, refuse to be bystanders, and refuse to not give everything they have to the issues that are important to them.

Looking back on our time at Holy Cross, we can thank our parents, siblings, grandparents, professors, and friends whose support has provided us with the confidence and strength to speak out, to change our thoughts to words, and our words into action. Yet our Holy Cross education also teaches us that the Fundamental Theorem of Holy Cross’s Class of 2019 is not something we can prove today. We know this because guaranteeing that each of our legacies is everlasting cannot be a four-year plan. Rather, it must be a life plan.

Thus, our graduation today raises the question: how do we build upon the lessons we have learned on Mount St. James? How do we ensure that we do not lose our confidence to stand up and fight for what we believe in when we step off the Hill and into the world full of millions of people with conflicting views and values? For four years, we have existed in a close-knit, relatively isolated community at Holy Cross, in comparison to the world at large, but the issues that we have challenged in our time here are not isolated. So how can we guarantee that our legacies are everlasting and that the Theorem holds true?

I believe that we are too strong and too knowledgeable to be silenced. Our Holy Cross education has provided us with the tools we need to take on this challenge. Making a difference, effecting change, continuing to be “men and women for and with others” – these actions can be part of each and every one of our futures because that is, in so many ways, who we are. When you leave here today, remember how valuable you are, remember that you are incredible, remember that you are indispensable, and that through your work as an individual or by calling on the lifelong friendships you have made at Holy Cross, your legacy will be everlasting.

Therefore, I leave you with the challenge of finishing this proof by living your best lives as Holy Cross graduates. 二零一九届的同学们,祝贺我们圆满结束!谢谢!Thank you and congratulations Class of 2019, we did it!