Scripps College graduated a record number of students during spring commencement ceremonies on May 13, with a total of 254, the largest graduating class in the 90-year history of the College.
Lara Tiedens, Scripps’ ninth president, conferred degrees on the undergraduates who completed their eligibility requirements to graduate in summer 2016, fall 2016, and spring 2017. The top five majors, according to registrar Kelly Hogencamp, were biology, psychology, politics/international relations and media studies, English, and economics. Scripps has 1,044 undergraduates, which is also the highest enrollment for the top nationally ranked college.
Saturday’s undergraduate commencement speaker was CEO of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani, who founded the nonprofit organization to inspire STEM education for girls. Noting the workplace discrepancies that still inhibit young women today, Saujani’s speech to the Scripps’ graduates exhorted them to “be brave—to throw caution to the wind and follow their passions.”
“If we don’t start teaching our girls that success is a product of bravery, not perfection, then the next generation of women is going to miss their chance to code the future in Silicon Valley, to build the future in the C-suite, and to legislate the future on Capitol Hill,” Saujani said.
Saujani told the story of her own pursuit of perfection, of how she struggled to obtain the Ivy League law school credentials she thought necessary to land a top drawer Manhattan law firm job, and about her subsequent loss in her bids for elected positions in Congress and as New York City Public Advocate. She recounted how the defeats led her to her finding her passion, and how she ultimately founded Girls Who Code.
“Not being perfect was liberating. And chasing my dream, not a credential, was the best decision I ever made. It turns out, when you get a taste for being brave, it’s hard to stop.”
Scripps senior Vivian Zhang served as her graduating class’s speaker, also addressing the several hundred guests in attendance at the 87th commencement ceremonies. Zhang reflected on the devotion of scores of classmates who fought for “more” as a theme of their four years together on the liberal arts campus.
“The four years we have spent here wanting and fighting and striving, those have shaped who we are…we are more than who we were when we started here,” citing the Class of 2017’s struggles together through tough academic challenges, social justice protests, and grieving the loss of loved ones.
Zhang added that being a college student means learning that sometimes the “‘more’ that is within us, isn’t always enough to make up for the loss, pain and injustice around us.”
President Tiedens thanked Zhang for her speaking from the heart about the “aspirations, independence, and resilience of this class.”