National political analyst Amy Walter ’91 told Colby College seniors on Saturday that true success will come from understanding their own values and living by them.
Walter, national editor of The Cook Political Report, a frequent contributor to the PBS NewsHour, and widely considered one of the most respected political analysts in the country, spoke at the College’s 196th Baccalaureate in Lorimer Chapel May 20.
“The real key to success—it doesn’t come from getting the right internship,” Walter told the Class of 2017. “It comes instead from knowing your own values and your own value. You don’t have to know what you want to do with the rest of your life today. But you need to know who you are and what matters to you.”
Walter reflected on her own Colby experience and on how her liberal arts education prepared her for a world that looks very different from the one she graduated into in 1991. At Colby, she said, students develop the tools they need to succeed in the long term. “You guys are going to constantly have to invent and reinvent yourself. The world needs people who are innovators and thinkers and creators and that’s who you are,” she said. “That’s what this place is and that’s what it gave you.”
President David A. Greene said it was his hope that the group of seniors goes on to lives that are “out of the ordinary … filled with passion and a commitment to addressing the issues that are most important to you.”
Greene recognized a cross-section of soon-to-be graduates, including scholars, activists, and athletes, noting that in the midst of their considerable achievements, they managed to give back more than they received.
He reminded the seniors that, even as they are doing the extraordinary, “never forget how important it is to be good at the quotidian activities of your life—in your relationships, your work, your anonymous and intimate interactions.”
Echoing that advice, Walter said she has learned that the ingredients of her own success include valuing empathy and honesty, and nurturing long-term relationships that are built on mutual trust and respect.
“As you leave Mayflower Hill this weekend and head into your future, focus less on what you’re going to do and more on who you want to be. With integrity, self-reflection, a willingness to take responsibility for your impact on the world around you, I promise you’re going to find success beyond all measure.”
Baccalaureate, which marks the official start of Colby’s Commencement Weekend, is an opportunity for seniors to join with faculty for their last time as students. This year it included readings by faculty and students and music from a stellar group of student jazz musicians.
Walter, who graduated from Colby summa cum laude in 1991 and has served on the College’s Board of Trustees, is among four recipients of honorary doctorate degrees at Colby’s 196th Commencement May 21.
“Red Clay” by Freddie Hubbard, as performed by Craig Ballard ’17, Justin Cary ’17, Kellen McDonnell ’17, Madiha Molani ’20, Carl Reid ’17, Demosthenes Sherman ’17, and Julia Warnack ’19 during the baccalaureate ceremony.