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Mona Minkara Graduation 2009 Commencement Speaker Wellesly College part 1 of 2

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Published on Jun 9, 2009

Source:Wellesley with news from the Wellesley Townsman and MetroWest Daily News

Wellesley - Before graduating from Wellesley College, Mona Minkara made sure she gave a bottle of water to the schools president.

The gift symbolized how a small gesture can make a difference. Minkara, the schools first legally blind graduate to receive a degree in science and student commencement speaker at the schools June 5 graduation, told the audience how while at an airport in Denver, she asked a woman to point out a water fountain. The woman, a complete stranger, came back with a bottle of water. All she asked in return was for Minkara to buy someone else a bottle of water. The story underlined Minkaras message to her fellow classmates: Remember others in their quests to fulfill their own ambitions.

The truth is, no matter how independent we imagine ourselves to be, weve all been on the receiving end of at least someone elses kindness and generosity, she told the large crowd of soon-to-be graduates and their families and friends. I have come to realize that a true Wellesley woman who will make a difference is not just a woman who can do anything she sets her mind to, but one who can do so while giving of herself and helping others in achieving their goals.

Wearing the traditional black caps and gowns, the roughly 600 graduates walked into the ceremony with their heads held high. Many waved to family and friends. Others took pictures of themselves or other graduates. Some wore green beads or green boas — in honor of the class color, green.

I really like that the Wellesley ladies are not just classy, but theyre also spunky, said Sylva Johnson, whose sister Savanna was one of the graduates. Theyre not just being serious.

The commencement speeches directed at the women graduating were mostly about never giving up, no matter what the circumstances. In addition to Minkaras story of persevering against very limiting physical disabilities, Kimberly Dozier, a CBS news correspondent who survived a bombing in Baghdad that killed everyone else in her crew, also encouraged the graduates to remain strong and believe in themselves, even if no one else does. She told of calling a former boss when she had a front-page story in the Washington Post — her old editor had told her it was a mistake to quit working for him.

What I hope you find, or choose, is youre not defined by your job or your major but by an internal compass of your own making, said Dozier, a 1987 Wellesley alumna. When I run, so to speak, into a wall, I ask myself what Im doing this for — and remind myself of my particular goals.

The Class of 2009 is not graduating in an easy time. The economy is in tatters, according to Wellesleys president, H. Kim Bottomly, and it wont necessarily be easy for them to find jobs. Bottomly compared graduating from Wellesley with the schools annual hoop rolling tradition. While some students could practice as much as they wanted, the actual competition was still much harder.

Things have changed considerably since I was at this podium a year ago, Bottomly said. Think of it as rolling your hoop through life. It is going to be crowded. It is going to take determination. But, like our hoop rolling, it is going to be fun.

Bottomly also told the young women that once they leave Wellesley, they are always welcome back.

You are Wellesley women and you always will be, she said. Wellesley will always be here. You will always belong here.

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