“BU Has Soul”
Student speaker celebrates University’s essential qualities
In the video above, watch Monica Narang (CAS’11), the student speaker at the 138th Commencement, address the Class of 2011. “A solid education is available at any good university,” said Narang. “There is something more distinct about BU." Video by BU Productions. Photo by Patrick Singleton
Under a sky thick with clouds, a breeze ruffling thousands of scarlet gowns, student Commencement speaker Monica Narang neither exhorted her fellow graduates nor sought to inspire. Instead, she urged them to recognize the impact their years at Boston University had on their personal growth, something that can’t be measured by grades or a diploma.
“A solid education is available at any good university,” said Narang (CAS’11). “There is something more distinct about BU. This University has a certain character that we all, in some way, take away with us; it centers around a balance between self-sufficiency and support.”
That character, or spirit, is what Narang celebrated in her address before some 20,000 people on Sunday at Boston University’s 138th Commencement exercises. As a sophomore, the Birmingham, Ala., native transferred from BU to Colorado College. While she loved the majestic landscape of the Rocky Mountains, she found her mind returning to Boston, to Comm Ave. After one year in Colorado, she came back to BU, where, she said, she forged deep bonds with fellow students, faculty, and administrators.
“There is something unique about a place where professors are writing critical comments on your papers one day and emailing you when you are sick just to ask how you are feeling the next,” she said, “a place where administrators dole out punishments in order to enforce rules, but also get to know you well enough to send Christmas cards.”
Narang, who plans to attend BU’s School of Law in the fall, with an eye toward public interest law, said one of the University’s greatest lessons was helping each class make the transition to adulthood.
“Through rigorous course work, the dreaded grade curve, the large student body, and our setting here in the middle of a major city, over the past few years we have all had to learn how to be responsible for ourselves,” said Narang, recipient of the English department’s undergraduate Albert Gilman Shakespeare Prize. “Having grown up in such a large community, we have had to learn how to be introspective and self-aware, to find our niche, to identify our personal passions, and thus to stand out as individuals.”
Narang noted that the physical manifestations of the greatness born at BU, such as the sculpture on Marsh Plaza dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59) and the statue of Harry Agganis (SED’54) in front of Agganis Arena, are not just celebrations of achievement and human potential, but reminders to look within.
“I think this is the heart of what we all take away from Boston University,” she said. “An outstanding education, but more importantly, the idea that the way this education applies to our lives outside the classroom has a very human purpose. BU has soul.”
Caleb Daniloff can be reached at email@example.com Comments