I wrote the following to the dear senior friends I am leaving behind this fine year. Some I may never see again, some I may see often.
They say this is one of the happiest times of our lives. We are celebrating the achievement of knowledge; a step into a new life. But how can we celebrate and be happy when it’s also a very sad time? We are leaving behind friends, memories, and four years of learning.
To be happy at this occasion, as everyone says we must, I think it is important to know what we are taking with us as we walk across that stage and out of Berea.
We are taking many friendships that will last a lifetime. Memories of those friendships and the things that we did together that have forever changed us. We are no longer the starry eyed, rebellious teenagers that walked onto this campus initially. We are young adults, still a bit starry eyed and rebellious perhaps, but we now have a purpose. We leave with the knowledge, determination, and power to change the world. We have already done that here by changing each other and ourselves with the people we’ve met and things we’ve done. But it is time to go bigger or go home. Some of us will go off to teach, some will be doctors, and some will be veterinarians. We will manage money and families. We will all touch the lives of others and change the world in subtle ways. Make those changes count. Be able to look back and say you changed a life for the better. Most importantly, though, as you are changing others, do not forget yourself. Put your future in good hands – your own. I hope your dreams take you to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known.
And as an author of childhood favorites said:
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You're on your own.
And you know what you know.
You are the guy who'll decide where to go.
I hope you remember what you’ve learned over the past four years and take it with you as you move through life. I wish you luck where ever you may end up and whatever you may do. I just ask that when you leave you don’t forget why you came.