Dear Harvard Class of 2022,
Today is the day. The one so many of us have been anxiously awaiting since we took our first steps in Harvard Yard. And it is so bittersweet.
With the excitement of our next chapters after Harvard comes nostalgia for the years that we have spent growing up here together. Nostalgia for the Annenberg rush during Sunday brunch, the late night study sessions in Lamont, the concerts where we watched our friends perform, the everlasting dining hall dinners.
The end of this chapter is inevitably emotional and challenging — but as our class has done countless times over the years, in hardship, we see the bright side.
It would be impossible to write anything about the past few years, or the Class of 2022, without recognizing the losses and tragedies that we and the rest of the world have experienced. We have experienced Harvard and the world in a completely new way. While trying to keep up with the day-to-day of our newfound Zoom lives, we faced a global health crisis, a deep reckoning for racial justice after the murder of George Floyd and numerous other Black and brown people, heightened political polarization, and a toll on our mental well-being. It has been really hard for all of us in one way or another. These challenges — some unimaginable and some all too foreseeable — touched each of us differently; some have been a shared among the Class, and in some have been borne in isolation.
But we have not allowed these dark moments to define our college experience. If this year’s return to campus — being thrust into senior year as leaders on campus when we left as mere sophomores — has taught us anything, it is that we as a class are capable of far more perseverance than we realized. Despite nearly a year and a half off of the field, we have returned triumphantly for our senior seasons and led our teams to NCAA championships. Despite not being able to rehearse together in person, and having to demonstrate immense flexibility and creativity to make virtual performances happen, we have helped bring the performing arts community at Harvard back to life. Despite the onslaught of tragedy and injustice that we’ve seen around the globe, often targeting already-vulnerable communities, cultural and advocacy organizations have worked tirelessly to ensure that causes both inside and outside of the Harvard community can be uplifted.
As we prepare to go our separate ways, it may seem as though even more challenge and uncertainty lie ahead of us. But we know that the Class of 2022 is going to take these challenges and uncertainties and transform them into opportunities for growth and flourishing. We have learned how to stay connected to one another in spite of distance, making us better equipped to maintain our relationships after college than perhaps any who have come before us. We have learned that opportunities and experiences are not to be taken for granted — a lesson that can help us live fully in the moment and make the most of whatever comes next. We have learned how to navigate our values, goals, and identities both inside and outside of the traditional college environment, preparing us to continue developing as rich and complex individuals outside of Harvard. We can’t wait to see who each of you will become, and the positive change that you’ll bring about.
We’ll be forever bonded together as a class full of grit and light. The ebbs and flows of the last few years prove it. As you exit this chapter and enter your next, we hope you will ask yourself: How can I push the world around me forward just a little bit each day? Then, take the tools and experiences that Harvard has given you and run with them! If we all find the answer to that question as often as we can, we will always be connected by the magic that we shared together and what we built with it.
It has been an immense honor for us to witness all of the strength, beauty, and love that this class has shared with one another and with the world. We have been and will continue to be inspired by each of you.
Menat and Ruth
Menatallah N. “Menat” Bahnasy '22, a Economics & Modern Middle Eastern Studies Concentrator in Eliot House, is the First Marshal of the College’s Class of 2022.
Ruth H. Jaensubhakij, a Social Studies Concentrator in Eliot House, is the Second Marshal of the College’s Class of 2022.