Anna Quindlen speaks at Wesleyan

On Thursday, June 4th, author Anna Quindlen spoke at the Commencement Ceremony for Wesleyan University, my alma mater. I found her speech thought provoking and inspiring.

She began by saying she was expected to apologize on behalf of their elders and the entire nation for handing off an “unmitigated disaster” to this year’s graduates.

Instead, she suggested that this year’s class, “perhaps more than any generation in memory,” has “an unparalleled opportunity to remake this nation so that it is stronger, smarter and makes more sense.”

Encouraging graduates to consider what “doing better” really means, to think in terms of spirit rather than income, she urged them “not to yield to the status quo” or to “trade happiness for deferred gratification.”

She finished by saying,

“With the old house in ruins and the new one still to be built, you are the people who must have the creativity, the audacity, the ideals to answer these questions and so many more. Samuel Beckett once said, “To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now.” The mess, the mess. That’s, finally, what we’re leaving you today. We leave you a mess. And I won’t apologize for that. Instead I want you to see it for what it is: an engraved invitation to transformation. Certainty is dead. Long live the flying leap. Take it. Use it. Bring it. Congratulations!”

You can read the rest of the speech here.


Leave A Comment