Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor Talks Justice, Civic Engagement at Radcliffe Day


Church Says It Did Not Authorize ‘People’s Commencement’ Protest After Harvard Graduation Walkout


‘Welcome to the Battlefield’: Maria Ressa Talks Tech, Fascism in Harvard Commencement Address


In Photos: Harvard’s 373rd Commencement Exercises


Rabbi Zarchi Confronted Maria Ressa, Walked Off Stage Over Her Harvard Commencement Speech

Magic, Magic, Magic

A Message from the Senior Class Marshals to the Class of 2013

By Julie R. Barzilay

During the first-ever Convocation exercises in Harvard’s history, University President Drew G. Faust faced our class from her perch on the steps of Memorial Church and proclaimed, “Thirteen is a magical number. You are proof of that.” She was unquestionably correct. We’re amazing. But pinpointing, capturing, or defining precisely what makes our class so special is somewhat challenging.

What defines a class? Is it our cumulative array of interests, talents, and accomplishments? Is it the immense progress its members will make someday in the realms of science, medicine, education, or law? Is it the number of Last Seniors Standing? (We had 21 seniors attend every single bar, more than ten times the number in the Class of 2012. Not to brag or anything). Or is it the number of matches made through Match13? Probably not—though we do have at least 22 couples engaged or married in our class, which is more than three times as many as last year’s graduating class. Again, not to brag.

One way to try to capture the essence of the Class of 2013 is to revisit some of our most memorable shared experiences. These are the moments we’ll remember and reflect upon at reunions for years to come. We have selected four in particular that brought our class closer together in powerful ways.

The first is Convocation—the ceremony that opened our Harvard experience with such pomp and circumstance that we thought this inaugural event was a time-honored tradition. Remember the processions, the cheering PAFs, the completely arbitrary dorm divisions, the pride you suddenly took in being affiliated with Pennypacker or Stoughton or Lionel? The wise words conferred by Reverend Peter J. Gomes? The chaos that was our class photo? Our whole, original class sat in the same place at the same time, thinking about the same things—how excited and scared we were to learn here and find our friends and make our mark. It was a moment like no other, and a nice parallel to the ceremony we’ll participate in on May 30.

In keeping with the theme of memorable moments in Tercentenary Theater, we also wanted to dredge up memories of the sopping 375th Anniversary celebration. Yo-Yo Ma was there. As was an enormous cake, what felt like four tons of cocoa beans from Taza, and tubs upon tubs of crimson-colored ice cream. We danced in the pouring rain on the technicolor stairs of a Gutenberg-Bible-housing library erected in 1915. We let the mud creep up our ankles and didn’t worry about psets and papers and summer plans. I think we all stopped at one point or another and looked up at the tower of Mem Church, which we walk by almost every day, thanking our lucky stars that we go to school at such a crazy, historic, beautiful, vaguely ridiculous place filled with incredible people.

The next set of memories are slightly more somber in tone. This year, our community was rocked by some truly unprecedented crises. In the past school year, the University shut down for the first time in decades, and it shut down several times: for a hurricane, a blizzard, and a terrorism scare. These episodes—particularly the tragedy at the Boston Marathon and its aftermath—were indescribably painful events that broke our hearts and tried our spirits. The only redeeming quality in any unthinkable tragedy is the sense of community, compassion, and support that inevitably emerges as part of the long recovery process. We gave standing ovations to our dining hall workers; we signed cards, designed T-shirts, and changed our profile pictures; we held vigils and shared hugs and reached out to friends in need. We helped keep Boston Strong. We never felt so connected to our House, our city, our class. And we continue to heal and grow together every day.

Finally, Senior Week. You lived it, you loved it, you could never do it again. How many times in your life have you lounged in the Quad with all your favorite friends listening to the Nostalgics, or partied on a boat surrounded by hundreds of familiar faces? When will you next get the chance to invade the biggest club in Boston and dance like you haven’t an obligation in the world? Or traverse Boston on foot inciting flash mobs, chasing squirrels, photographing MIT students, and walking like an elephant? Or file into the gorgeous Sanders Theatre, where you took notes during Justice or Ec 10 lectures three years ago, to attend a free performance by some of the most talented people you’ll ever meet? The only other time we’ve had this much freedom to socialize and have fun together is Freshman Week, and we didn’t know each other then. Now we do. And we’re pretty damn good at celebrating all that we’ve achieved and experienced as a class. Job well done, 2013.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to facilitate some of these moments of gratitude, reflection, unity, and celebration for you all this year—from the Champagne Brunch to Senior Bars to Senior Soiree. We could not be prouder to serve and represent the most magical class in Harvard’s history. We are so grateful and so excited—and a little sad that we won’t be making more shared memories like all of these as frequently after May 30. But hey, that’s what reunions are for, right? See you all in five years. And every five years after that. Congratulations, Class of 2013—you’ve got the magic in you!

With love,

Your 2013 Class Marshals

Julie R. Barzilay, Danny P. Bicknell, E.J. Blair, Nadia L. Farjood, Margot Leger, J. Arturo Villanueva, Nina M. Yancy, and Scott J. Yim

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

CollegeCommencementLettersSeniorsBoston Marathon375th AnniversaryCommencement 2013Senior Section 2013Wedding3