Remarks, Accepting Honorary Degree
Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Bennett College for Women Commencement
Greensboro, North Carolina
Saturday, May 8, 2004
It is a great privilege to receive an honorary degree, especially one from Bennett College for Women. Bennett College has the high distinction of being one of only two historically Black institutions of higher learning for women in the United States. Bennett College also, has the high distinction of having, as its talented leader, “’Sister President’ Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole,” who has led both institutions.
To be recognized with an honor evokes feelings of pride and exhilaration, as surely you are feeling this afternoon. To be proud is to acknowledge achievements and to accept credit for hard work, perseverance, determination, and resolve. In other words, you did it by yourself.
To be recognized with an honor also evokes reflection, based on understanding that our achievements are shared. We stand upon the shoulders of those who went before, and those who walk with us — of those who helped us, who supported us, who guided us, who gave us comfort — and still do. In other words, you did not do it alone.
To illustrate, I share with you a Vietnamese proverb:
“When eating fruit, think of the person who planted the tree.”
And, I would add,
“. . .and, she who tends it.”
Thank you for allowing me to be with you on this special day. Congratulations and Godspeed.
Source citations are available from the division of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Statistical data contained herein were factually accurate at the time it was delivered. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute assumes no duty to change it to reflect new developments.