Good afternoon President Spar, Dean Hinkson, Trustees, Distinguished Guests, Faculty, family, friends, and most importantly, good afternoon to the ever remarkable Class of 2015!! I am Layla Tavangar and I am the Sr Class President. It’s such an honor to finally address you all in person, rather than in emails that I’m sure get sent to spam!
There is a 12th century epic Persian poem called “The Conference of the Birds”. It tells the story of thousands of birds, of all types and colors, who go on a journey to discover who their king will be. At their destination, they find that they themselves all collectively represent their sought-after leader. Each bird is important and tells their own part of the story, but above all, their ultimate unification creates Simorgh, the mightiest bird of all.
I think of our class as that Conference. We are like the birds; all unique, having made it through a sometimes overwhelming journey, and are all essential to a greater whole.
I have learned so much from you all. The learning started on Sulz-Reid 4, and then spread to virtually everywhere on campus, and throughout the city. We spent time standing up for our causes, whether in Reacting to the Past, Union Square, or among friends.
The world has changed with us. We went from Occupy our first year to Carry That Weight, Fight for $15, and Black Lives Matter our senior year. We’ve taken part in movements that will affect the world for generations to come, and we’ve gotten better at making our words and actions count, and finding joy in what we are doing.
Class of 2015, you taught me how to love where I am, to love myself, and that I really could be loved by my peers. Through my four years I found safety, belonging, trust, and love. There were also times of sadness, frustration and disappointment, but this community trumped all of that. Barnard, for 125 years and many years to come, is a place where a strong, bold, beautiful family takes flight.
Like that ancient flock of determined, courageous, resilient birds who winged their way to a long-awaited destination, we, too, will thrive on our journeys. In the Conference of the Birds, amidst their flight, one of them cries: “Come on you brave birds! Let’s glide, let’s fly, let’s soar. Love loves difficult things. We’re on our way!”
So, to the Class of 2015, I hope you love, laugh, and find support each step of the way. Thank you and Congratulations!!!