2019 Senior Class Address
Class of 2019,
I want to start off by saying… I can’t believe you all wore the same thing as me. I told you I was going to be wearing a black robe, so one of us is going to have to change.
But now that that’s off my chest, If I’ve learned anything from hearing President Weinberg speak at countless events during my Denison career it’s that all great speeches contain lists, so I’ve taken that into consideration and compiled a list of all the things I’ve learned at Denison.
- Hills don’t get easier to climb after four years.
- If you’re going to make Easy Mac, put the water in before you put it in the microwave.
- And most important, I’ve learned what it means to be a Denisonian.
Every now and then I’ll see posts on social media with the hashtag “Denison Everywhere” in which groups of Denisonians who may have graduated years and years ago meet up in places all over the United States and World just because they are bonded by one thing: they are all Denisonians. Soon, Class of 2019, we will be those people, meeting up and reminiscing about our time at Denison.
Seeing posts like that, and hearing people talk about Denison, makes me realize how important Denison is to people. It’s not something that goes away when you leave here. It’s something that will stick with you forever, because, for a lot of people, it’s not just a school, it’s a part of your identity.
Being a Denisonian can mean any number of things. It can mean that you have a love of the liberal arts, that you’re just really into deer, or that you’re significantly more passionate about bluegrass music than the average person. But, most importantly, it means that you’re part of a community that cares - a community that not only cares about Denison or the people who go here, but that cares about the greater world around you. In fact, we care so much that our President has had to tell us numerous times to stop doing so much. And did we listen to him? Not really. Should we have? Maybe. But in a world where it’s really easy to not care about anything, caring, even just a little, is extremely important.
Our class has been through some challenges in our time here. We’ve faced three tragedies bookending our college career, as well as an election in the middle that tested whether or not we were going to be politically and socially divided. On top of the everyday challenges of college, with each event, tragedy, struggle, and loss, we came together. Why? Because, while we are all very different people from very different backgrounds, we are all bonded by one thing - we are all Denisonians. And because we are Denisonians, we care, and that is what has made us resilient over these four years.
It is so easy, in this day-and-age, to let challenges discourage us, to let difference divide us, to resort to being on our phones or staying in our rooms because it’s comfortable rather than going out and doing something. You can be the smartest person in the world, but if you have no passion, you’re not going to get anywhere.
Class of 2019, we are a group of passionate individuals. We have started new clubs and organizations, we have studied abroad and learned about different cultures, we’ve had countless meetings with administrators as well as numerous design thinking workshops to come up with ways to continually make this school better. Many of you are going to be the first individuals in your family to graduate from college, and if that doesn’t take passion, I don’t know what does.
Just as your identity as a Denisonian will never go away, I hope that your passion never goes away as well. This world needs people like you. It needs people who have taken a wide breadth of classes, who know something about Black Studies, or Computer Science, or Queer Studies, or Chemistry, or Art. But most importantly, it needs people who care.
There’s a lot of comfort in apathy, because when you don’t care about anything, there’s no risk of getting your feelings hurt. But if I’ve learned anything from my four years of doing improv here, it’s that life is about taking risks and putting yourself out there. Life is about trying, failing, and picking yourself back up again, and that takes passion.
If you take nothing else from Denison, take your passion, because not only will it get you far, but it’s also much easier to fit in a moving van than the mini fridge you’ve had since your first year here. We’re about to enter a new world as Denison alumni, and as we enter this world, I hope we all look back and not only remember the challenges, struggles, celebrations, and laughs we had here, but that we also never lose sight of why we started to care in the first place.