News Archive

2007 Commencement Address

Full text of the remarks given by Arlene Joy Gibson

5/30/2007 10:51:27 AM


Arlene Joy Gibson, known for her work in education for women, delivered the Commencement Address to the Class of 2007 on May 13.

Gibson began her teaching career at R-MWC as a Spanish instructor and went on to teach and head numerous institutions including the Spence School in New York City, a K-12 girls school founded in 1892.

The following is the full text of her address...

President Worden, Board President Christman, Alumnae President Mills, Trustees, Members of the Faculty, Members of the Staff, Friends, Parents and, most important, Members of the Class of 2007.

I am deeply honored that you have invited me to speak to you today. I have a deep, personal affection for this campus as it was Randolph-Macon Woman’s College that launched my nearly forty year career as a teacher, school administrator and advocate for girls and women.

Before I begin, I would like to ask the graduating class to join me in thanking some of the people who are here to celebrate you today.

You did not arrive at this moment alone. Your professors and your advisors have been with you every step of the way. They have been among your toughest critics and your most loyal supporters. They have demanded excellence from you and have led you to believe that you were capable of serious scholarship and of meaningful service. Will you please join me applauding this faculty for all of their loving support?

You have with you today even greater supporters than this faculty – your parents. Your parents have cared for you, nurtured you, fed your playmates, read to you, listened to you read, checked your spelling, fed your classmates, cheered your games and your dance concerts, suffered with you through the college application process, listened to your romantic traumas, and fed your roommates. They have born the cost of the past four years – and that could have reached nearly $125,000 - without any real idea of exactly what it is that they have bought. Your parents have sacrificed for you their time, their resources, and their tremendous energy. And they believe that you are worthy of those sacrifices. Graduates, will you please rise and applaud your parents for supporting you every moment from your birth until this day.

And there is one further person, I believe deserves recognition on this day: your Acting President Virginia Worden. No one loves this college more than she does. Because of that love, when asked to undertake the Presidency in this year of difficult decision-making, she stepped forward willingly. President Worden did not owe this college. A supportive Randolph-Macon alumna, she had already served the college as a Trustee and as Board Chair. But she stepped forward at this historic moment for the college because she cared for the college’s future. And, despite rumors to the contrary, I don’t think Ginger ever really snapped. So thank you, President Worden for helping guide this college this year.

When I graduated from college, I was certain that I would become a diplomat. I diligently went to live abroad and returned to the States to pursue my Masters degree. I knew what I wanted and I prescribed a logical path to obtain my goal. But….

There was this guy. And he lived in Lynchburg, Va. At the time of our marriage and my subsequent move to join him in Lynchburg, married women did not usually work outside the home. And, if they did, they followed one of three career paths – they were secretaries, nurses or teachers. Two of those I could not do. But this terrific college, Randolph-Macon, hired me to teach. Under the tutelage of Charlotte Stern and her colleagues and with the support of Bill Quillian, I had my first teaching job.

And I was hooked. I fell in love with teaching – with the ahhh that students express when they understand, with the sparkle in their eyes when they grasp

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CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of College Relations