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Commencement Archive

2008 Student Address: Kasmin Holt

Kasmin Holt, a member of the Class of 2008, delivered the student speech at Smith College’s Ivy Day celebration on Saturday, May 17.

Good morning. My name is Kasmin Holt, and I am member of the Class of 2008. I am honored to have this chance to thank you all -- because without your continued support and dedication to Smith, I would never have been given this wonderful opportunity: to be a Smithie.

When I entered Smith in fall of 2004, I never imagined that I -- the girl who until her junior year was terrified to speak in class -- would be standing here in front of you expressing my gratitude. But, here I am -- so this is what my adviser and my mother would call growth. Allow me to share some of my story, and why I appreciate your generosity and the Smith experience.

To my surprise, my first year, I was chosen to be an “I am Smith” woman, who is featured on the front page of the Smith Web site. This was shocking because I was at a major crossroad, similar to many first years: deciding if Smith was the right fit for me, or if I should reconsider my undergrad experience and return to D.C., where I felt secure and assured.

Recalling your first semester at Smith, there are a range of emotions that one experiences; did I make the right choice? Who am I? What is, or what will be my role at my new home?

However, as a senior, I now realize that constant questioning and reflecting, is what makes me a Smithie. To me, Smithies are strong, inquisitive, passionate, dedicated, and always persevere. Luckily, I was placed with the best pre-major adviser, Gary Lehring -- or “the Gary” -- as I call him, who eventually became my major adviser in the government department. He told me that I would succeed in spite of adversity, and standing here today I know he was correct...yet again. As Smithies, we are fierce fighters, who can deal with anything, yet remain true to our values.

I will never forget my first day of classes. I was so nervous; girls were using words that I felt were above and beyond my grasp, yet I made it through. You might be thinking, what is this girl talking about? I, like many of my closest friends during my first year, felt ill-prepared because of my previous education experiences.

Unlike many students in my classes, I attended public school -- and not a public school that was similar to a private school -- but a public school where we did not always have enough textbooks for the students; however, I was blessed to have teachers who continued to push me, almost as I hard as I pushed myself.

Since I was little, I was determined to attend Spelman College or Howard University, historically black colleges and universities. I had always been under the impression that this experience would complete me.

Yet in my junior year of high school, I received the Smith Book Award, and decided to give Smith a look. I participated in Discovery Weekend and fell in love with the idea of Smith, in spite of the cold and rainy weather. I decided to take the big plunge and accept Smith’s offer to become part of the Class of 2008.

As you can imagine, my first semester -- well year even -- was about adjusting. However, I found my niche and was able to take classes with professors who had a serious interest in my success. With my adviser and some of my other professors, I was able to express my fears and concerns, and yet, in spite of these fears, I was consistently offered support, which I feel I would have not received at another institution. As a matter of fact, my best friend, who attends Spelman, remains envious of my relationships with my professors.

So why should you -- actually, why should we all -- continue to give money to Smith? By making a donation, as a collective, we are giving students who most likely would have not had the opportunity to attend such an inspiring school, a chance. As cliché as it might sound, this chance will open doors, challenge minds and ultimately contributes to personal growth, which is priceless.

In the last four years, I have matured, have set new goals, and acquired a greater understanding of life. Smith has been a challenge. From Latin American History with Professor Candelario to my never-ending battle with Statistics, my Smith experience was a good challenge, in spite of the tears, hair loss and academic stress.

As you all know, at Smith you can learn and take risks in a safe environment, and with world we live in today, feeling secure should never be taken for granted.

I’ll share with you the reasons why I give back. Whether 19 or 99, all Smithies are fiery, and it’s beautiful! Giving back, helps guarantee a continuation of that fire. Our passion for living, learning, and fighting for change are incomparable. Where else do the professors encourage controversial and passionate dialogue, and push you to venture into the unknown and truly embrace the liberal arts? The answer for me is Smith.

As one who is about to join you as an alumna, I know that without this experience, I would never have such diverse life experiences and perspectives. Smith has also forced me to speak up, in a respectful, educated, and passionate manner, and to feel confident. So please, join me in continuing to support Smith because we all benefit from having women who are zealous, and who are willing to take risks and make mistakes. In giving back, we ensure that future women will be equipped to continue to fight for truth and not be afraid to question. After all, Smithies are leaders.

Personally, I want thank you. This has been an amazing experience for me.