Editor’s Note: The previous version of this story included a bio of Noah Nieting, who was not one of the finalists selected. We will be updating the online version with information from Leyla Suleiman, the finalist who should have been listed in Nieting’s place, shortly and will publish an excerpt from her speech in our next issue.
Name: Farah AlHaddad. Majors: Political Science, concentration in Human Rights and Humanitarianism. Extracurriculars: Residential Assistant, Classics Department Teaching Assistant, Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights Co-Chair, Pi Sigma Alpha Macalester Chair, Chair of Global Citizenship in the News at Macalester, Macalester Dance. Post-grad plans: Grad school in Canada or the UK to study International Studies. Why I wanted to speak: The experience of writing the speech was very deep for me, because I got to reflect on my four years and came to appreciate this place more. It would have been a huge honor because I’m so grateful for all the time and opportunities I’ve been given at Mac, and it would have been great to declare that publicly. I also really enjoy public speaking, and I wanted my mom to see me. Excerpt: “Class of 2017, because of you I am both humble and proud. Because of you I have familiar faces to get me through unfamiliar circumstances. You teach, fight, argue and shoot for the stars in everything you do. When unjust political agendas began to be pushed, you protested. When grants were available to you, you designed and conducted meaningful projects. And when I called on you to donate money to the bleeding city of Aleppo, you delivered. For the past four years you have answered every call and today I ask you to answer one more. When you leave here today continue to show compassion. Continue to be audacious and sympathetic, not out of pity, but out of solidarity. Continue to search for knowledge, to do justice and to love kindness wherever you go. And when those we love come under threat, deliver on your Macalester education by speaking and acting on five words: I will fight for you.”
Name: Gabriella “Gabs” Gillespie. Major: Political Science and Hispanic Studies. Extracurriculars: Bodacious, Chromactics, Black Women of the Diaspora (BWOD). Post-grad plans: Participating in a Leadership Development Program with TCF Bank. Why I wanted to speak: I wanted to celebrate the work of the Class of 2017 and congratulate my peers on their success. Excerpt: “We know longevity does not speak to the lessons and experiences gained. This idea holds significant importance and truth, but only answers the question of what to make of the temporary, not how to live in the temporary. We have participated in student and cultural orgs, sports, performances and events. We have practiced engagement inside our community and outside of Mac. We have discussed, argued, read, written, presented, organized, critiqued and analyzed. We focused on being in the moment and doing the best we could and being the best we could be while keeping an eye on the clock and our end goals in mind. Why must any of this change as we prepare to leave Mac? Macalester may be temporal, but our engagement, contributions and collaborations are not.”
Name: Gordy Moore. Major: Geography, concentration in Urban Studies, minor in Environmental Studies. Post-grad plans: Working on it! Extracurriculars: MacCARES, Macalester College Orchestra, Mac Men’s Club Hockey, Staff News Writer for The Mac Weekly, Zabumba, Orientation Leader, Fairmount Ave. United Methodist Church Choir, Epsilon Kappa Chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon, International Geography Honors Society, MCSG Sustainability Officer. Why I wanted to speak: It was humbling that I was nominated. Submitting a speech and potentially addressing our class felt like a special way to interact with everyone a final time and reaffirm some of the community norms we hold in common. I figured that since I was nominated, I might as well give it a try. Excerpt: “However, the current paradigm on the ‘real world’ versus life at Macalester College becomes truly troublesome quite quickly. Is the real world harsh and cruel? Does it exclude people and their ideas because they question or push past the status quo? We often joke of the ‘Macalester bubble’ and ideas or actions being ‘so Macalester,’ but truly, our community’s norms are never a laughing matter. In our post-grad lives, we can never accept anything less than we have expected of our community for the last four years. Ever. We must strive to push back against those who may denigrate us because we care about something they see as inconsequential or even worthless and futile. Our world at Mac can and should be the real world, and let no one tell you differently. In the wise words of our kilted, stalwart leader Terry Gorman, ‘If you see something, say something!’ Stand up, speak out, and say something, do something, ‘hashtag IRL,’ in 2017, and for the rest of your life. Thank you.”