Elected by his classmates, Patrick C. Sanders ’08 of Fairfax, Va.,
gave the class speaker’s address at Colby’s 187th Commencement, May 25, 2008.
Good morning professors, administration, staff, and distinguished guests of the College. Good morning parents, guardians, and family members. Good morning to all of you watching from cyberspace via the live Webcast. I beg you to remember that the camera adds at least ten pounds. And to you, the phenomenal Class of 2008, happy Sunday. I don’t know how all of you feel about this right now, but I think it sure as heck beats eating waffles in Foss.
My dear friends, despite our best efforts, or perhaps because of them, today is our last day as Colby students. For many of us, today will end as our Colby careers began, driving on 95 wondering if we’ll see a moose. Well, maybe that’s just me.
In any case, this afternoon we’ll be departing Waterville en masse, an exodus of brilliance spreading out to all four corners of the world. We’ll have a diploma in our hands, smiles on our faces, knowledge in our minds. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have tears in your eyes, which is nice to have all this extra fabric to wipe them away with. But most importantly, we will have love in our hearts for each other.
Speaking of love, let me turn now to our parents and family members. Y’all rock! If I had been allowed to bring anything to graduation, it would have a been a glass to raise in toast to all of you. Of course, it would have been empty because I wouldn’t want to get an open container fine on the steps. To all of you parents who are just as happy to see us walk across this stage as you are to stop cutting checks for tuition, I raise my imaginary glass to you. Without all of you, we wouldn’t be here today. Really, thank you for calling and making sure we were all awake and mildly coherent. And thank you, too, for investing in our education, for building our self-confidence, for providing opportunities for us to grow and succeed, and opportunities to learn from our mistakes. But most importantly, thank you for potty training us. I cannot imagine how much worse the dorms would smell if we were all wearing diapers. So cheers, and thank you for everything.
Thanks also are due to our professors, the administration, and Colby’s unsung heros, the staff. Colby staff supports us all and maintains the high quality of life we have all enjoyed for the past four years. In particular, I would like to recognize Sodexho and PPD. Sodexho—the food has been delicious and plentiful for four years. The evidence is cleverly hidden under this gown. Thank you, but know that I will be sending you the bill from my shrink when I can’t handle life without chicken tenders on Sunday.
PPD—especially the custodians and the ground crew—thank you for making sure we could make it to the pub and the dining hall when it snowed. But did you really need to shovel and de-ice the paths to the academic buildings? Seriously, though, you all do it all and you do it well. Thank you.
To the administration, we’ve had our successes to celebrate and our struggles to work through together. Thank you for teaching us the art of debate.
Professors, thank you for being incredible mentors, for expanding our minds, and for pushing us to expect more from ourselves.
Now, you, my classmates, who are somehow making these $31.50 black potato sacks look good. I love you. As I have said numerous times over the past four years, I love the Class of 2008. I love our diversity of personalities, our broad range of talents, our mastery of time—expertly balancing time spent studying with time spent enjoying friends. And best of all, I love how we were always there for each other, no matter what.
We began on the freshman year forums posting messages to each other about how excited we were to be headed to college, what classes we were going to take, and what super powers we wish we had. If you so desire, you can still log on and read the hilarity which ensued before we even made it to the hill. And we ended with this past week’s display of affection, which, simply put, was a love fest. I’m not sure I have ever given or received so many hugs or de-tagged so many pictures of myself on Facebook. All in all, it has been quite the four years.
But there’s a difference between the love we had for Colby as first-years and the love we have for Colby now. As first-years, we had a romanticized view of Colby. Everyone, and every thing, was cool, new, exciting, liberating, and inebriating. We spent the end of the summer bonding over summer sausage and GORP, the fall learning where the library was—allegedly we have three, who knew—January sledding down the hill in front of the chapel, and the spring toting two pairs of shoes to the gym because the first pair was covered in mud.
But as we changed, our love for Colby changed too. During our time at Colby, we have realized that loving Colby doesn’t mean it’s perfect. And indeed, perhaps we love Colby even more because of its imperfections, imperfections which allow us to be agents of change in this community. We are a class dedicated to creating change here at Colby and a class which has, and will continue to make, an impact around the world. We’ve had one of the most successful senior pledge drives in the history of Colby, helping support Colby students of tomorrow like Colby alumni have been supporting us for the past four years. This commencement weekend has been the greenest ever because of our class’s concerted effort to reduce our carbon footprint and leave Colby just as, if not more beautiful, than when we came here. We’ve been tireless as a class in our efforts to improve town-gown relations, dedicating countless hours to volunteering in the community—work, which is wrongly forgotten when we choose to celebrate ourselves. But without a doubt, we have made this community better because we didn’t shrink away in the face of adversity.
So when you leave Colby today don’t let getting dirt under your nails deter you from doing hard work, unless, like me, you have no fingernails, in which case don’t fret about getting your hands dirty. And don’t think giving a dollar won’t make a difference, because it will—so log on tonight and make your senior gift.
But most importantly, don’t forget to be yourself. Because if I have learned anything at Colby, anything at all, it is that being yourself will take you further and open up more doors than anything else.
To each of you, I love you. You’re beautiful. Keep in touch. And I hope we all see moose on our ways home.