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Student Government President Tells Students They are Better Prepared for Changing World

Read script of Ara Friedman's address here

9/3/2008 3:34:40 PM


Ara Friedman, 2008 Student Government President, presented this address to students, faculty and staff at Randolph College's Convocation Sept. 2, 2008.

Fellow students, faculty, staff, administration and distinguished guests;

Welcome to Convocation 2008! I would like to extend a warm welcome to our new dean, Dennis Stevens, and of course, an especially warm welcome to my fellow seniors, the class of 2009. Congratulations for surviving three years of college-when we walked in here today we became the women we watched and admired for 3 years, the seniors with their silly hats and button-covered stoles, well that’s us now! We stand here with a greater awareness of our character and of our collective and individual resilience than we had 3 years earlier.

Unlike most of my fellow seniors, I arrived on the campus of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in the fall of 2006, just in time to catch the roller coaster that has been this school experience for the last 2 years. I signed on for the ride, and like all of the returning students, held on even through the bumps that accompany any major change. Change seems to be the theme that encapsulates our time here. A constant in life, change is not always desired or asked for, but will occur nonetheless.

This became clear to me, not only through the events of this college, but from the sudden death of my father halfway through my sophomore year. From this experience, I learned that change happens suddenly, without warning and you can’t control it. You can only choose how you will react to it, what you will gain from it, and how you will allow it to form you. Through the greatest challenges, we discover the depth of our characters and the human capacity for resilience. As Helen Keller once said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and in quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved.”You all responded with courage to all the adversity and I would argue that you emerged at the other end better prepared for the changing world than other young people.

I was talking with a friend the other day and she told me one reason why she came to Randolph-Macon. She chose this college in part for the women she sits with today. It was an incredible feeling, she said, to start her education amidst these strong, independent women. They became part of what she wants to take away from her years here. This conversation led me to think about all the relationships I’ve formed here and how, just like my friend, I would carry those people on into the next stage of my life.

Randolph is now in the process of bouncing back. We are showing our capacity to endure and re-emerge stronger. I’ve heard that the class of 2012 has a lot of energy and they’re bonded and outgoing. They bring a wealth of unique personalities and skills and have already inspired those of us who returned last week. I look forward to seeing that vitality re-energize our community and inspire us to greater heights.

When discussing a theme for this year’s Student Government, sophomore Claire Beumer provided us with the words, “Bringing Everyone Together for a Life More Abundant.” Let us continue to be strong and persistent and strive to re-establish the community we all cherish. I wish you the best of luck in your academic endeavors and success in the constant search for a life more abundant.

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CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of College Relations