Early Saturday morning, Tina Tchen, Director of the Office of Public Engagement and Executive Director of the Council on Women and Girls, addressed the Knox College graduating class of 2010. Knox was founded in 1837 by anti-slavery social reformers, led by George Washington Gale, and today ranks as one of the top private liberal arts colleges. Tchen adds to a list of distinguished keynote speakers at Knox, which has included Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and in 2005, then-junior senator Barack Obama.
In her speech, Tchen acknowledged the college’s strong tradition of public service while stressing the necessity of change, both personally and politically: “Change takes you out of your comfort zone… But that's the essence of change. If you aren't challenged, if you aren't nervous, if you aren't even scared then you're not changing enough. And if you aren't changing, you aren't growing."
Tchen candidly touched on a handful of personal life lessons to encourage patience and persistence when faced with the challenges of change. She called on the graduating class to “lead the change we need to build the America of the 21st century” by ensuring equality and equal opportunity for all Americans, specifically the protection of the women and girls of the world who continue to face discrimination. The Knox graduates were told to “go forth into the world and be a part of change… Change is important. It is worth it.”
Jenny Kaplan is the Deputy Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls.