Three outstanding Massachusetts women shared their own experiences and insights about leadership with Pine Manor's graduates at the 87th Commencement on May 14, 1999.
The main Commencement speaker, Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Jane Swift, along with honorary degree recipient Kip Tiernan, founder of Rosie's Play and Linda Whitlock, President and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, set a tone of strength and pride. As the sun cast its warm glow upon the lush, green grass near the Pine Manor pond, this year's graduates listening intently to the honorees' words of wisdom.
"Don't try and figure out your futures today, tomorrow, or even this year because you won't, nor should you," advised Lt. Governor Swift. "The key to success, in my opinion, is to prepare for anything."
"Leadership is not measured by what position you have on the corporate ladder or the number of people you supervise," explained Swift. "Leadership is not about ruling with an iron fist. It is about extending a helping hand to others to make lives better."
The youngest woman ever elected to the Massachusetts State Senate, Lt. Governor Swift has been a powerful advocate for education reform and helped bring to life the Education Reform Act of 1993. Least year, Lt. Governor Swift's campaign efforts with Governor Paul Celluci were in high gear while she was pregnant. "Everyone had an opinion on whether this was the right or wrong thing to do," she said. "Election Day was the proudest day of my professional life," explains Swift. "And, at the same time, there has never been a more tender, overwhelming, and all-encompassing moment in my life than the day I gave birth to my daughter, Elizabeth."
Like the Lt. Governor, Tip Tiernan aptly personifies Pine Manor's mission of inclusive leadership and social responsibility as founder of the first shelter for homeless women in the United States.
"For the past twenty-five years, we at Rosie's Place have always lived one day at a time, one woman at a time, one dream at a time," says Tiernan. "We too believe that caring begins with caring for oneself, caring for the community, and caring for others."
"We at Rosie's Place moved beyond sheltering and like to think that we are part of the solution by providing jobs, education, working co-ops," Tiernan adds.
Linda Whitlock, President and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, gave yet another perspective for the graduates. She told of her experience growing up as "a little black girl" in Richmond, Va., before the Civil Right Act was passed. She described the severe limits imposed on her - how the list of places where she was not allowed was much longer than the list of places where she was allowed.
"Because that little black girl had role models and mentors," Whitlock explained, "because she was immersed in a community of blacks who cared about her - who encouraged her to value personal and educational achievement - a community that paradoxically conveyed a sense of power in the midst of what should have been absolute powerlessness - because of all this, that little black girl grew into a confident, empathetic, highly motivated woman who revels in being engaged in leadership."
Commencement was a day of bittersweet emotions for the Class of 1999. As year young woman begins a new life, she can look back upon the day with great pride and remember the powerful words of three inspiring women.
Sat, May 15, 1999
by Kimberley Pyles, Pine Manor College Bulletin