In her annual commencement address, President Biddy Martin told the newest alumni that these times require the best of their liberal arts educations. Describing the liberal arts as “a leading source of resistance to anti-rational forces of manipulated fear and hatred” she urged new graduates to use their education as antidotes to prejudice and exclusion.

“The broad range of liberal arts disciplines makes reason and understanding, freedom and generosity their ground and their purpose. This form of education,” she said, “offers an unrivaled opportunity to absorb the ideas and the values essential not only to personal success but also to creating the world we say we want—the opposite of where our most visceral instincts take us when we’re afraid.”

At Amherst, Martin continued, “we recognize that talent and promise cross all social and economic boundaries and that high-quality educational opportunities should, too. We also realize, as research shows, that we come to better conclusions, that we are smarter, when different life experiences and points of view are taken into account.”

Prior to Martin’s remarks, elected class speaker Darienne Masishi Madlala ’16 recalled a quote she had heard at a conference: “The person who always asks ‘how’ will always have a job. But the person who always asks ‘why’ will always be their boss.” She encouraged her classmates to “question everything.”