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Light the Way

At Swarthmore’s 146th Commencement on May 27, President Valerie Smith awarded honorary degrees to entrepreneur and public interest lawyer Edgar Cahn ’56, poet-writer-activist Sonia Sanchez, and biomedical engineer and educator Francisco Valero-Cuevas ’88.

“They are intellectually curious,” she said, “and have seized opportunities to create, produce, and contribute in a wide variety of arenas.”

“All of the things that enable us to function as human beings, we have devalued,” Cahn told graduates. “We need to value work that the market does not value, and we need to value people whom the market does not value. Market price does not equal value. Being the best human being you can be is priceless.”

“The day is walking towards us and I say, give us the spirit, O Lord, O my sisters and brothers. And for it put, to put on our eyes,” Sanchez said. “And forever, let us be in the eyelash of your memory ... where there is always the precision of young men and women serving themselves, sewing themselves into the sleeves of justice and activism and change and love.”

“You are now officially empowered by your education. Use it—and your talents—wherever your passion may lead you, regardless of the major written on your diploma,” concluded Valero-Cuevas. “Be empowered, be passionate, be determined, be yourself, and most of all, be happy.”

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NOMINATE a 2019 honorary degree recipient by Sept. 14, 2018: Email Jennifer Piddington at