Cynthia Enloe, Ph.D., Research Professor, International Development, Community and Environment Department

Commencement Speech

Cynthia Enloe


[Introduced by President Angel; Enloe stands at podium]

I have not suddenly grown. This is a "non-size-ist" podium. It recognizes the power of people who are 5-foot-2 in the world.

I am really honored to be here. I see myself here as a representative of all my faculty colleagues. They are the ones who we all honor with you today. So give a hand to the faculty.

I'm very lucky because—if you leave out the long security lines—I spend a lot of time traveling to colleges and universities and non-government organizations and activist groups around the world, and what strikes me is that Clark is everywhere. You are everywhere. I expect to see you everywhere. There are stories, and my friends all joke about the stories about where I run into Clarkies.

So I run into Clarkies at cafés, of course. Bookstores, of course. I run into Clarkies at political rallies, of course. I run into Clarkies at United Nations meetings. Once, I was in Geneva for an international meeting. I was standing at a big bus station outside the central railroad station and, all of a sudden, I saw this woman take her life in her hands and dash across at least five lanes of Geneva traffic. She came over to the bus stop and said "I'm a Clarkie. Hi!" Then she turned around and ran back through the traffic! That's how we Clarkies do this, right?

Another time, I was swimming out in the middle of Walden Pond. I was paddling along and, all of a sudden, I heard splash, splash, splash, splash. And there was somebody over a way, splashing and saying, "Hi. I'm a Clarkie!"

So, you have to be ready any time to meet a Clarkie. There is no place to hide.

Recently, I was in a big parking lot in Boston. I was putting groceries in the car and I saw this tall fellow loping across the parking lot. And he came over to me and said, "Oh, you probably don't remember me." He was about 6-foot-5, and looking down on me. I said, "Yes, of course I do." He said, "You know what I remember from your intro to comparative politics course?" Every faculty member knows this kind of question; it makes you so nervous. He repeated, "You know what I remember from your comparative class?" I said, "No." He said, "I remember that tacos are political!" I said, "You've got it! You don't have to know anything else. That's it!"

Teaching is really a two-way street. All of us who are lucky enough to work with you in the role of teachers know that we learn all the time. We are your students as you work with us as well. So, here's what I want you to do: This is Clark. We don't just applaud and be passive, right? We take part. So here's what I want you to do, and this is not rhetorical, all right? I want you to do this. I want you to think of a faculty member who has had a special impact on you. And maybe the faculty member doesn't even know what impact they've had on you. Ant this might be a quiet, subdued faculty member, but you remember very specific things that they taught you and how excited you got by listening to them. Maybe it was someone who's more dramatic and someone who sets off sparks. And you'll never forget what they challenged you to do.

Ready? On the count of three, I want you to say out loud—so every faculty member o there can hear you—I want you to say the name, loud, of one faculty member. One, two, three! [An enthusiastic roar from the crowd can be heard.]

Thank you!