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Home » Shruthi Kumar’s Speech at Harvard Commencement 2024 (Transcript)

Shruthi Kumar’s Speech at Harvard Commencement 2024 (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Shruthi Kumar’s speech titled “The Power of Not Knowing” at Harvard Commencement 2024.

Listen to the audio version here:

TRANSCRIPT:

The Power of Not Knowing

Today, we are celebrated for what we know. In fact, for most of our lives, we’ve learned to feel a sense of accomplishment in the awards, accolades, and honors that line our childhood home. How much we know and how we leveraged it got us far. It got us here.

But today, I want to convince you of something counterintuitive that I’ve learned from the class of 2024. The power of not knowing. I grew up in the great plains of Nebraska, alongside cattle ranches and corn fields. As the eldest daughter of South Asian immigrants, I was the first in my family to attend college here in the U.S.

There was a lot I didn’t know. When it came time, I asked my parents how to apply to colleges, and they too said, “I don’t know.” The words, “I don’t know,” used to make me feel powerless, like there was no answer, and therefore, no way. As if I was admitting deceit.

Redefining the Feeling of Not Knowing

From Nebraska to Harvard, I found myself redefining the feeling of not knowing. I discovered a newfound power in how much I didn’t know. I didn’t know a field called the history of science even existed. And I now find myself a graduate of the department.

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