Victoria Reggie Kennedy, wife of the late U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, was keynote speaker at the College of Saint Elizabeth (CSE) annual Academic Convocation on September 11, 2013 – a day dedicated to bringing the campus together at the start of a new academic year. Kennedy, along with College President Dr. Helen J. Streubert and Student Government Association President Cheyenne Grant, '14, math major, challenged students to prepare for a life of service, civic engagement and leadership. "The future will outlast all of us," said Kennedy in quoting her late husband. "But all of us will live on in the future we make ... what is the future that you will make?"
First year student Jessica Rediger, '17, education major, said, "This CSE milestone day featuring not only CSE leaders but such a prominent civil leader as Mrs. Kennedy, shows me CSE cares about the future – my future and the world's. This day only reinforces my decision to attend CSE. It showed me that the College cares about its students' academic and life journey from day one."
Education played a key role in deciding Kennedy's future, as College of Saint Elizabeth will in preparing its students for the future. Kennedy said to students, "I identify with you in a special way, because I also had the benefit of an education at a women's college - Newcomb College in New Orleans," said Kennedy. "I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world…There is something really extraordinary, really powerful that happens when you harness the positive energy of women."
Throughout her remarks, made on the 114th anniversary of the founding of the College as well as the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Kennedy encouraged students to become active citizens and to embrace a philosophy of kindness and conversation. "We don't need tragedy to bring out our goodness and kindness," she said. "How we treat each other defines the character of our nation. How you treat others defines your character. You've already taken the first step - you're here, in college at this terrific school. And what you will do with this opportunity will affect not only your life, but the lives of your children and their children. Your time is now!" said Kennedy.
After hearing Kennedy say there have been 28 women members in the United States cabinet, first year student Tatyana Snelling, special education major, said, "YES! My time is now. Time to prepare, believe in myself, and with the support of others, time to realize it's possible to do anything. The 29th female U.S. cabinet member can be me."
At the event, College President Dr. Streubert emphasized the role that CSE will play in students' lives. "You are on the path to be future leaders in your families, communities, your work places, your churches and for some of you; you will serve your nation in some major way," she said. "You have the ability. What you will need over the next four years is discipline. Discipline to honor the dream that brought you here… we are here to meet your needs – call on us and never forget that you are now CSE women."
Grant's comments to her fellow students during the Convocation reflected the importance of education, how it changes individuals who ultimately change the world. She said, "Educare in Latin means to call forth – and that is what we hope your education here does; calls forth your best self, changes you so that you can in turn go out and change the world." She urged students to get involved in campus life and service activities to gain strength and give support to others. She concluded, "These next few years are going to be amazing, challenging, stressful, memorable, and unpredictable, but understand you will never be alone."