President Alison Byerly presented her farewell remarks to graduating seniors at the 180th Commencement. Her speech is below.

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President Alison Byerly takes a photo of the crowd for Twitter.

President Alison Byerly takes a photo of the crowd for Twitter.

It is a privilege to have the opportunity to close this ceremony by offering a few brief words of my own to the graduating class. The Class of 2015 is very special to me. Many of you were just rising to leadership positions in various clubs, sports, and activities when I arrived here last year as a new president, and this class includes many of the students I have come to know best in my time at Lafayette.

We have also shared some extraordinary events this year, like the 150th game in Yankee Stadium, and the basketball championship this spring, which provided wonderful opportunities to bring the community together. Last month’s multimedia production of Frankenstein 2029 was another highlight and a great example of the way in which the campus is energized by events that involve collaboration among many different groups, organizations, and academic disciplines.

Much of this ceremony focuses on individual achievement, and it is appropriate that those achievements be celebrated. In addition to those students honored with Lafayette awards, we are very proud of the accomplishments of the Lafayette students who this year won significant national recognition, including three Fulbright fellowships, two Goldwater fellowships, and three National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships.

At the same time, I hope that you will all feel collective pride in what you have accomplished as a community. The events mentioned a moment ago were team efforts in which every participant played a key role, including the audiences who came out to support their friends. Others of you came together this year in a spirit of activism to stimulate dialogue on important and difficult issues on the national stage. In April, dozens of you participated in Lafapalooza, a day of community service that made its mark in projects all across Easton. In each of these cases, success was a result not just of individual talent, but of the strength of the Lafayette community.

We spoke earlier in the ceremony of the importance of our unique heritage and our connection to the Marquis de Lafayette. To me, a key dimension of the Lafayette ideal is the fact that the college is named after a man who shaped his own identity and chose his own destiny. Lafayette was not required to fight in the American Revolution. His decision to board the Hermione and travel from France to join forces with Washington was based entirely on his affinity for the ideals of liberty and self-determination that the revolutionary cause represented.

I believe that the choice made by the citizens of Easton to embrace the Lafayette ideal explains the unique spirit of Lafayette College. It is a place that reflects, and fosters, a powerful sense of self-determination. It is a place that asks you to seek an ideal, and live up to it. We hope that as you go out into the world, and define your own path, you will see in the spirit of Lafayette an example to follow.

We hope, too, that wherever your voyage takes you, you will continue to be sustained by the strength of the Lafayette community: by the faculty who mentored you, the staff who supported you, and the friends that you have made. Though today you may leave Lafayette College, you will never leave Lafayette behind.

I hope that you will stay in touch and come back often. Congratulations and best wishes to you all.

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