Compared to many of her peers, Elizabeth Sperti traveled a very short distance when she first arrived at Northwestern in 2018. The Evanston native is mindful of the fact that everyone has a different journey. But with her love for storytelling, she seeks a universal truth, a common thread that brings people together. And that’s exactly what she’ll aim for when she delivers the official welcome address to the Class of 2022 during the University’s 164th Commencement on Monday, June 13, at Ryan Field.
Graduating from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences with majors in legal studies and creative writing, Sperti has dedicated much of her extracurricular time to communications work on behalf of Associated Student Government and NU Political Union. She also has served as a peer adviser, guiding new students to helpful resources throughout campus no matter what their need.
“Some of my own greatest learning experiences have come by teaching others,” she said.
Before graduation weekend begins, Sperti talked to Northwestern Now about her college career and what she hopes to achieve in her upcoming Commencement speech.
What do you think about your role as speaker?
Of course, I’m really honored to have the chance to speak to my fellow graduates at Commencement. My goal is to celebrate the challenges we’ve overcome to graduate. I want to tap into the ambition and drive that got us here, that got us through it all. This is a time to celebrate what it means to each of us that we’ve faced down those challenges and succeeded. I also hope to bring a sense of peace or acceptance to a moment that is both scary and thrilling. There may be a lot ahead that’s unknown, but this achievement has more than prepared us.
As a creative writer, what does storytelling mean to you?
I just love stories. I’m reading five different novels at once right now, so I’ve thought more than a little about this. A good story transcends the realm of the everyday. It gets to that sense of shared experience, which can be so much harder to identify than our unshared experiences sometimes. It can be about anything or anyone, but it touches your heart and makes you want to know more. And just like I’ve come to realize there are so many different students here at Northwestern living their own reality, I hope I can deliver a message that speaks to each of those realities in one way or another.
How has COVID-19 changed your college experience?
It’s something I had to just accept and take on. It certainly changed us; it seems to have made the time go by even faster — if that’s possible. I’ve often asked, What did I miss? Who else could I have met? What more could I have done? But in the end, I’m just grateful we were able to come back together this year to enjoy the precious time we had left on campus.