Below is the text of Chancellor Melissa Nobles’ Commencement remarks, as prepared for delivery today.
Thank you, President Reif. And good afternoon everyone! It is wonderful to have the chance to say few words of admiration, gratitude, and, above all, congratulations to our Class of 2022 graduates, and to the family, loved ones, and friends who’ve traveled from near and far to be here for this momentous occasion.
You all know that saying, “be in the moment.” Well, if there was ever a moment to really be in the moment, believe me Class of 2022: This. Is. It.
Take a second and look around you. Breathe in and then exhale. Let all of this soak in so you can recall with clarity the feelings of pure joy and tremendous accomplishment. Absorb and relish this celebration of what you’ve achieved during your transformative time at MIT. How much you have grown – academically, professionally, and personally.
The knowledge you gained and advanced. The challenges you conquered. The strength and resiliency you found. And the deep connections and tightly knit communities you built over the course of your journey. The lifelong friends and mentors you found here are the people who I know will continue to be sources of encouragement, support, and inspiration as you make your way in the world.
Now, what about the people who’ve been by your side, rooting for you and lifting you up from the very start? I’d like to say a word directly to the parents, siblings, grandparents, extended family members, and dear friends who are gathered in the audience or watching the webcast this afternoon.
You have been steadfast in your belief in the Class of 2022 from day one. You’ve demonstrated your belief and support in so many ways – both big and small – over these past two-plus decades. You helped make this moment possible. And for that, I extend my heartfelt thanks to all of you.
I know that we’re all eager to get on to the main event – the awarding of your hard-earned diplomas – so I promise to keep this short and sweet.
When I thought about what I wanted to say to the Class of 2022, I remembered this fact: You are the only class of current students that had finished a full academic year before Covid turned our worlds upside down in March 2020.
Because of this, your MIT experiences and memories are likely grouped into two categories: our “old normal”, pre-Zoom days and our “new normal” – one that, unfortunately, continues to call on us to contend with loss and disruption; frustration and fear; and, if we’re being honest, just plain exhaustion that go hand-in-hand with living during a pandemic.
In the midst of all of this upheaval and uncertainty, the Class of 2022 has persevered and, I imagine, learned a thing or two about yourselves along the way.
For starters, you should now know that you can handle whatever life throws your way. Never forget that you are often stronger and more resilient than you think you are.
And when you’ve needed help, as we all do from time to time, you’ve known to ask for it from others – sometimes from Deans, faculty, staff, coaches, and always, from your fellow students. Because that’s what the MIT student community does for each other. You’ve shown both your individual and collective resiliency time and time again over the past two-plus years.
Hold on to the way that this pandemic has put certain things into perspective. Time with the people we care about is precious. So are our health and wellbeing, and the health and wellbeing of the ones we love. Looking out for others and feeling a sense of shared responsibility for the common good are paramount.
Remember the simple pleasures of casual, spontaneous interactions in the Infinite, The Stud 5, Hayden and Barker Libraries, the Z Center, and, as President Reif spoke about this morning, the Banana Lounge. Recall how badly you all wanted to be back together again on this campus. And always keep this knowledge top of mind: how truly fortunate every single one of us is to have found a home at MIT.
With these lessons in hand (and also in your minds and hearts), we send you out to the world. As you know, there are really big problems out there that we need you all to help solve. We need you to apply your vast scientific, technological, and humanistic knowledge along with your empathy, compassion, and work ethic to the challenges of climate change, human health, social justice, and preserving our democracy, to name just a few.
The challenges are large and complex, no doubt. But the skills and knowledge that you all have learned here at MIT combined with your intelligence and determination are bigger. And that means that all of you are capable of meeting these challenges.
As your Chancellor – the person who is responsible for helping to educate “The Whole Student” – I am certain that you can and that you will bring your whole selves to discovering, to advancing knowledge, and to creating new technologies – while also creating personal and professional lives that are rich in meaning and humanity. How can I be so sure? Because that’s exactly what you’ve been doing throughout your time here.
Your journey into the future holds countless possibilities, risks, joys, rewards, and surprises. It’s okay to be nervous but please don’t ever doubt your promise, your purpose, or your strength. I know you’ve got this.
For all that you have achieved and contributed, and all that you aspire to be going forward, MIT honors and congratulates you. And we wish you well on the road ahead.
Thank you, and congratulations Class of 2022!