Senior Class Speaker
May 23, 2004
As soon as word got out that I’d been chosen as class speaker, it seemed the only thing that anyone could say to me was, “Can you say my name in your speech?” And I started saying, “Sure! Will do!” left and right, and before I knew it, I had compiled quite the list. So family, friends, distinguished faculty, and most importantly, fellow classmates, my speech today will be nothing more than personal shout-outs to each and every one of you. Abbot, Lauren M., “’s’up?” Alford, Emily T., ‘Congratulations.’ Antolino, Lindsay N., ‘you did it.’ Okay, I changed my mind about that.
Change: what a perfectly convenient and totally unplanned segue. We are all gathered here today not only to celebrate this monumental occasion that is collegiate graduation but also to reflect on the change that’s occurred in each and every one of us over these past four years. And then we’ll probably follow that up with insightful, hopeful outlooks on the change to come as we move on.
We all had our own reasons for choosing Colby. For some, they were seduced by the picturesque campus and that Seven Wall structure-thing. Others wanted to get away from the buzz of the city and relive summer camp here in the rural happening scene that is Waterville, Maine. Still yet, I spoke to one person who legitimately thought they were applying to Colby-Sawyer. But whatever the reason, we all found ourselves here in late August of the year 2000 for COOT. Squared. What better way to ease 400-some odd scared freshmen into college life than to send them off into the wilderness with a summer sausage in one hand and a bag of gorp in the other and say, “Now go make friends.” We bonded over sweat and strenuous physical activity, like twenty-mile hikes and kayaking whole rivers. Or so I’ve heard, anyway. Personally, I was on shopping COOT, but that’s okay. We’re not all born to climb Mount Katahdin. And my fellow COOTers on Acadia Excursion B were definitely my kind of people. But whichever COOT trip, it was the first step in finding our respective niches.
Freshman year jumpstarted with required 115 classes and late night wellness lectures. Beer Die was a rite of passage. We spent far too many hours in Lovejoy 100 and rewarded ourselves on weekends by copulating on the dance floor at the sketchy Heights pajammy-jammy-jams. The seniors instilled in us the fear of God, and we ran around campus holding hands, waiting for someone else to let us into the apartments. Then we’d stand awkwardly in the hall and say to one another: “I don’t know, I hear music. You go in first. No you.” Everyone hates a freshman.
Nothing, not down-filled Patagonia jackets or layers of Abercrombie turtleneck sweaters could prepare us for the hell that was our first Jan Plan winter here on Mayflower Hill. Forced to stay on campus, we cuddled for hours in dining halls and cried when we had to step outside into the arctic-like tundra. I can’t tell you how many times people said to me, “you’re from Maine, how do you deal with this?” But Monmouth, being forty-five minutes south of here, is definitely closer to the equator. Or perhaps I never just got out enough as a child, because I never remember being as cold growing up as the cold we experienced here in the bubble.
However, we survived to see our first spring, where every freshman girl busted out the mini skirt and stilettos whilst reading by Johnson Pond. Brown bag snack packs from the dining hall somehow got us through finals. We had our over-dramatic, tearful goodbyes and went home to our respective states. One year down.
I would like to apologize at this point in the speech because sophomore year is a little bit hazy. I remember partaking in extracurricular activities at one of Waterville’s finest pieces of real estate called the Farmhouse, but that’s about it. I think it was one of the hardest years academically for most, and we spent much time gathered in learning merriment on the first floor of Miller Library. I believe that is what happened. I love you Mom. Okay.
Before we knew it, junior year was upon us. And so many of us were itching for a change. As much as we loved our safe haven here at Colby, we needed different places and entertainment. But why travel alone, when you can take your best friends forever, familiar professors, and take the party overseas. So although we were spread out all over the world, it was nice to know that we were all reading the same one-week-behind Echo issues to find out what was going on back on Mayflower Hill. It was a time when I found myself missing the strangest things about Colby. One day in Ireland, I missed Napoleon the security guard so much, I wanted to buy him a card, just to say, “hey.” I read the Digest of General Announcements line for line even though they were the same-old, same-old “I lost my ID card, my mailbox key, my Nalgene and black Northface—all in one night.” I loved going abroad but was excited to reconvene the next year.
Senior year slapped us in the face with subject lines that read “Career Services This Week.” I don’t know who this Penny Spear character is, but she is permanently blocked from my inbox. Job fright set in, and we realized that maybe we should get our acts together and start preparing for life beyond Colby’s realm. The best way we knew to ease the ulcer of joblessness was to start a Thursday night love affair with Mainely Brews, a local bar. Senior year was such a confusing time. It was when I think we finally really appreciated college and decided to not worry about the ‘no job, no money, no apartment’ thing and enjoy the time we had left. It was the final chapter in the anti-responsibility years. So we still attended those late-night seminars, still cranked out those ten-page papers, but we definitely celebrated. It just felt so good to be the ones finally giving the freshmen the evil eye and to rule the school in our own minds. A series of unfortunate events led to the creation of a new St. Patrick’s Day holiday, “Faux Doghead.” But we handled the news with the highest level of composure and maturity. And we will find those nasty Bates students who broke onto campus and caused thousands of dollars worth of damage. We wrapped up the last day of classes with a champagne toast on the steps of Miller that brought together boys dressed as referees, girls dressed in only their underwear and inflatable whales alike.
So what’s next? I have no insightful words of wisdom and I am just as scared as the next unemployed soon-to-be-graduate. Let’s try a quote. It’s from a dear friend of mine and I think it has deep meaning and is so representative of the emotion experienced here today. “We are rocket ships shooting to the moonscape of our future, burning intelligence fuel.” Footnote: Scott “The Limit” Smith. No? Okay. Well, there’s a Web site that might be helpful. It may aid you in finding the best road as you question your choice of major and look for a career path that’s right for you. Just go to www.jobpredictor.com and type in your name. There is no survey or information to fill out and I swear this is a real site. Just type in your name and it tells you what your ideal job is. It is by far the finest form of Internet magic I have ever seen in my entire life. I took the liberty of looking up President Adams and Dean Kassman. Bro, jobpredictor.com says your ideal job is as an air steward. I think if this college presidency thing doesn’t work out you should call Delta. And Dean Kassman, you were meant to train rabbits. You just can’t make this stuff up. Jobpredictor.com: if you’re unemployed, tired of waiting for tenure or trying to pay off a 37,000-dollar-a-year debt, don’t say I never gave you anything. Now it is my understanding that there is a long-standing tradition, unless of course that tradition has been cancelled, moved from twelve o’clock to four, or not at the lodge? What? But I think it’s still a tradition and I really hope I don’t get a fine, but the class speaker is supposed to bestow gifts upon President Adams and Dean Kassman. So I went ahead and did that. I had some free time so I wrapped them. Can you stand it? So if Bro and Janice could come forward. [President Adams and Dean Kassman come forward.] Pause for awkward silence as they open their presents. [Dean Kassman holds up a shirt that says, “I swear I did not cancel Doghead” on the front and “Jan 2004” on the back. President Adams holds up a pair of sunglasses.] I hope it’s okay that I called you “Jan” on that shirt, because I got so tired of ironing on those letters.
I don’t really know what happened here. It seems I blinked and college is over. Here we are, I’m standing here sweating out scorpion bowls and Jell-O shots from last week through this highly fashionable black muumuu of a gown and getting more severe cap-head by the minute. But I’m fortunate enough to be looking out at familiar faces. What we build here over four years is a community. It took time, but we all came into our own. Now we have to step out of this comfort zone and bid farewell to what we’ve created as our reality. I won’t find myself walking into a bar, immediately noticing that six foot seven classmate, a head above the rest, and know that everyone’s here and I’m among friends. Gym memberships will cost money. Doghead will no longer be the best day of the year. Then again, we won’t be forced to eat chicken fingers every Sunday night. Checking Mule Match compulsively is just going to be pathetic from here on out. We may have to start drinking a more sophisticated form of alcohol than PBR or Natty Light. Friends will be more than just an instant message away, but honestly, I’ve never felt so prepared for the unknown. We’ve had fun here, but we’ve also managed to learn a thing or two in the process. Professors have forever imprinted us with their knowledge and we’ve worked hard for this well-rounded education. These brick buildings and unnaturally perfect lawns have provided us with a home. Most importantly, we have seen one another through tragedy, uncontrollable laughter, and change. Colby has shaped every aspect of the people we’ve become and I know it’s only going to get better from here. High school was better than middle school, college better than high school. They say that college years are the best of your life. God, I hope not. This was incredible, but there’s more to come. I am grateful for this education. I am grateful for this experience. And I am grateful for all of you. We are leaving here with so much more than what we came with. Thank you for a wonderful four years.