Rachael Warecki Photo by Marc Campos
Lindy West '04 delivers 2024 Commencement address at Ųʿ

A sense of hope and possibility is necessary for the creation of a brighter future, author and cultural critic Lindy West ’04 told the Class of 2024 at Ųʿ’s 142nd Commencement ceremony on May 19.

West, author of the memoir Shrill, delivered the Commencement address to graduates, family members, and friends celebrating at the Remsen Bird Hillside Theater.

“Powerful institutions want you to doubt yourself, to look away, to believe that the risk of questioning is too great because questioning is taking a step to the unknown, and the unknown is where everything is possible,” she said.

View the Commencement address at 1:40:00.

“When you think cruel thoughts about yourself, your nervous system receives it as a threat and shuts down as a threat response,” West said. “So if you’re trying to create positive changes in your life, scientifically the only way to do it is to treat yourself with kindness and care, because otherwise those neural pathways just aren’t malleable and literally cannot change.”

West emphasized the need for moments of celebration, such as Commencement, even during periods of turmoil. “Joy and lightness and softness are a moral imperative if we want a better world,” she continued. “The only path forward is to stay in a place of hope and possibility, to stay curious and malleable and keep our collective pathways open to the fact that anything is possible.”

President Harry J. Elam Jr. presented West with an honorary doctorate, one of three presented at the ceremony. Joseph Duff ’68, a prominent civil rights lawyer, and world-renowned visual artist Ed Ruscha also received honorary degrees.

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