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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
Dear Class of 2016,
Wow, what a week. Managing Match 16 made us realize that you are all our friend-crushes. At Senior Olympics, you showed us that every gathering is a dance party waiting to happen. And on the Moonlight Cruise, you reminded us that the most important ship is friendship—but a ship full of friends, drinks, and dancing comes in at a close second.
Senior Week may have felt like a marathon, but let’s not forget to cheer for each other—and ourselves—as we approach the finish line of our Harvard educations. In a lot of ways, our four years of Harvard were at times a little disastrous, or at least included a series of natural disasters that resulted in a record number of school days cancelled. And yet, throughout the blizzards and the hurricanes and the mumps, we managed to transition from practical strangers swarming the Sunday Sundaes table in Annenberg to friends or co-workers or familiar faces. In fact, it may have been through the disasters that we grew closest to one another. We survived by helping each other: keeping each other company when we couldn’t go outdoors, standing together to fight for causes we care about, serving as sounding boards during quarter-life crises. Our struggles, while manifold, often created the moments that unified us the most.
This year we’ve been thinking a lot about what brings us together. Although we walked different paths on this campus, we influenced each other’s lives through our conversations, our debates, our mutual presence. We were a huge part of each other’s world for these four formative years.
A couple of weeks ago, we on the Senior Class Committee organized an outing to the Red Sox game, where we were promised free crimson Sox hats as a part of Harvard night at Fenway. The hats were an exciting giveaway, but even more powerful was the feeling of walking back to our seats and looking out over the stands. Sprinkled throughout the crowds and dotted among the bleachers were flashes of crimson, visible even from a distance. In that moment, we really felt like we were part of something, something bigger than we’d even imagined.
Harvard is a place where we’ve learned what it means to be a part of something—how to contribute meaningfully to friendships, to classrooms, to student groups. Even though we will walk through Johnston Gate Thursday morning, we will always be a part of the Harvard Class of 2016. We might not be able to spend afternoons chatting with friends in our House courtyards or pull all-nighters fueled solely by brain break and wee-hour-delirium, but we shouldn’t forget that we’ll be seeing those flashes of crimson around the world for the rest of our lives—our blockmates, our teammates, our classmates, and friends we haven’t even met yet.
We’d like to thank each and every one of you, for making Harvard an incredible “something” to be a part of.
Getting to know so many of you over the past four years, and especially the past few months—at Senior Bars and Senior Dinners and Senior Week activities—has been an absolute honor. There’s a spark within you, Class of 2016 (how else could Senior Week have been so lit?), and hearing your perspectives, your hopes, and your plans of action as we all prepare to enter the real world has been an inspiration. Thank you for making Harvard what it’s been for all of us, and we can’t wait to see what magic you all will make beyond the gates to better serve thy country and thy kind.
Reylon A. Yount ’16, an Environmental Science and Public Policy concentrator in Lowell House, is First Marshal of the College’s Class of 2016.
Jessica A. Barzilay ’16, a History and Science concentrator in Dunster House and a former Crimson news editor, is Second Marshal.
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