This story has been updated to reflect the print version published on Feb. 27.
Hillary Rodham Clinton LAW ’73, the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, will be this year’s Class Day Speaker.
The 2018 Class Day co-chairs announced Clinton would speak at this year’s celebration in an email to the senior class Monday evening.
“When Secretary Clinton spoke at her Wellesley graduation in 1969, she told her class that their challenge was ‘to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible possible,’” Class Day Co-Chair and former President of the Yale College Democrats Josh Hochman ’18 said in a statement to the News. “The ‘impossible’ world Secretary Clinton imagined in 1969 is not yet won — yet it will be if our generation dares to emulate her life of resilient and courageous service.”
In that Wellesley College address, Clinton said that “for too long our leaders have viewed politics as the art of the possible. “The challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible possible,” she said.
In 2016, Clinton broke the glass ceiling when she became the first woman to be nominated for president by a major political party. And despite losing to President Donald Trump in November 2016, she won the popular vote by a margin of almost 2.9 million votes. Even before her presidential candidacy, Clinton had a long, successful and often controversial career in public service. She served as secretary of state under former U.S. President Barack Obama between 2009 and 2013, and as a U.S. senator representing New York between 2001 and 2009.
Clinton will join a group of three other Obama-era political officials who have spoken at Class Day over the last five years. Before baseball executive Theo Epstein ’95 spoke in 2017, Yale hosted former Secretary of State John Kerry ’66 in 2014, former Vice President Joe Biden in 2015 and former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power ’92 in 2016.
After graduating from Wellesley, Clinton attended Yale Law School, where she served on the editorial board of the Yale Review of Law and Social Action. She later began dating former President Bill Clinton LAW ’73, a fellow law student.
Following her loss to Trump, Clinton launched Onward Together, a grassroots political action committee that aims to advance progressive causes. Last September, she released a best-selling memoir, “What Happened,” a tell-all about the 2016 election.
Students interviewed by the News were split on the significance of Clinton’s Class Day speech.
Jordan Cozby ’20, president of the Yale College Democrats, described Clinton as a role model for students working to overcome challenges to achieve justice and equality.
Anthony D’Ambrosio ’18 said hearing Clinton will give students the opportunity to learn from an experienced public servant. D’Ambrosio added that Clinton will offer perspective for “social impact-minded” Yale graduates in the Trump-era.
But other students were less enthusiastic.
“Mrs. Clinton is a perfect choice for the Class of 2018,” said Cole Aronson ’18, a former conservative staff columnist for the News. “Her perennial power hunger, vapid progressivism, addiction to gender politics and post-defeat logorrhea all reflect the values of my class. But alas, I shan’t be able to make it.”
President of the Buckley Program Madeline Fortier ’19 said that, although Yale has the right to invite whomever it wants, the choice becomes political when the guest is a politician. She added that the Buckley Program hopes Yale will invite speakers from across the political spectrum in the future.
Clinton was born in Chicago in 1947.
Hailey Fuchs | firstname.lastname@example.org
Clarification, Feb. 27: This version of the article has been updated to reflect that Cole Aronson is a former conservative staff columnist for the News.