It is with extreme pleasure and honor that I stand before all of you today to express some of my deepest
thoughts, concerns and beliefs. I am only 22 years young but within my short lifetime I have witnessed revolutionary events: some of America’s most important presidential elections, the full uncovering of our genetic code, the rapid spread of online social networking - and even the unofficial renaming of a remarkable species, Amphiprion ocellaris, now more commonly known as “Nemo.” This all goes to show you that every field and every spectrum of every field remains susceptible to change, change that can leave a lasting impact for decades and centuries. It is about the type and nature of change that I wish to focus on today.
It is without a doubt that the lessons acquired outside of the classroom are just as important, if not more important, than the lessons learned within. Just the other day I came across one of Red Bull’s latest advertising slogans, which went like this: “Nobody ever wishes they’d slept more in college.” The first thing I thought? What a marketing technique! Impinging the threat of regret upon individuals trying their best to balance academics, social life and sleep. And of course sleep makes up the lowest rung of this college totem pole. Thankfully, college students are blessed with the drive, enthusiasm and persistence to deal without sleep. Of course, all for the sake of sanity, but who needs that in college.
This is what makes college students incredible. We endure extreme levels of mental fatigue and even go as far as sacrificing personal hygiene for the sake of personal growth. We work hard to grant our own wishes and achieve our self-made goals. But what happens beyond this point in our lives?
As we move on to more rigorous course work in various graduate schools or take on endless cycles of 9 to 5’s, will change eventually impact the way we set our priorities and our drive to preserve them? Realistically speaking, adjustments in our college ways are definitely required. The structured world demands so. I am predicting that there comes a point when engaging in late night debauchery and running nude around centrally placed buildings becomes less socially acceptable. However, this does not mean, and I hope this stays true, that we must also forfeit the mentality that we have developed throughout our four years here.
The transition from high school to college creates dreamers and believers. In college, assorted academic avenues appease our every interest, and the diverse collection of personalities on campus evokes just about every emotion. And whether or not we choose to go study abroad, the cultures and the perspectives of the world still find their way into our hearts and minds. Life feels extremely enriching in this sort of environment. Who wouldn’t give up some hours of sleep to enjoy everything offered in college?
But I am here today with my fellow members of the Class of 2012 because a new transition is about to occur, the transition out of college.
The world awaits us. Change awaits. May we step up to all the challenges presented and tackle them with the same mentality that has gotten us this far.
May we recall the lessons that we have learned and the people we have met to not only meet expectations but to expand past limits, even when we’re pushed to our own limits. Let us remember our young spirits and our relentless attitude, our thirst for knowledge and our passion for forming friendships.
We leave as the seniors of Union College today to become first-years in a much larger university, where lessons are taught everywhere and over 7 billion people walk the campus grounds. The world is riddled with unpredictable obstacles but we enter it with the skills necessary to face the surprises brought on by change and more importantly, the skills to surprise the world of what we’re able to change.
Change cannot be predicted but I can guarantee you this, we are ready for change and change had better be ready for us.