Christine Frieman MA '10:
Graduate Student Speaker

Christine FriemanThis past fall, when I was attempting for what seemed like the umpteenth time to decide on a thesis topic and scope, worrying about the normal historian things—would I be able to find enough material? Could I really base a whole thesis project around this topic? Was this research even possible?—I began to fret about something entirely different. I was worried that my topic was too obvious, that it had been done before, possibly (or probably) by someone with far more credentials than myself.  As I worked myself more and more into a frenzy, my advisor turned to me and calmly said, “Of course it may have been done, but it’s never been done by you. That’s what’s important. You have something unique to contribute, and now it’s your job to go and figure out what that is.”

The more I think about it, the more I believe that this is how to do life. We all have something unique to contribute, whether it be to our future professions, our relationships with our family and friends, or to the world.

Sarah Lawrence teaches us to think outside the box, to create new ideas. We have the freedom to pursue our own interests within our chosen fields. Creativity is admired. Original thought is respected. We are not restricted by timelines or guidelines or really any sort of lines at all. That’s the beauty of education and of this education in particular. As graduates of Sarah Lawrence, we will be able to make our mark in a different way than those who have come before us.

It is our job now to go out and figure out our unique way to contribute. There may have been writers, teachers, advocates, geneticists, historians, dancers, actors, and directors before, but they were not us. Now is our chance to go out and show the world what we can do, and I’m confident that we will succeed.

Thank you, and congratulations.