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Class of '12 Unleashed

By Nisma Elias '12 on May 22, 2012 02:52 PM

2012_Commencement_253.jpgThe bright May morning was filled with enthusiasm and laughter, as family and friends descended on campus to celebrate Reed's 98th Commencement with the 288 members of the class of 2012 under the majestic white tent on the Great Lawn.

The ceremony began to the rousing (or as one senior commented: "awful") sound of bagpipes. Graduating seniors applauded faculty members who guided them during their time at Reed. In an act of symmetry and acclaim, the graduates were then applauded by their professors after they had collected their shiny new diplomas.

In his last commencement speech, President Colin Diver poked fun at graduating with Reed on the "10-year plan." He was surprised nonetheless, when Don Berg '12 shouted from the audience that he had gone to Reed on the 25-year plan. (Don first arrived on campus in 1986!)

Diver then mentioned three virtues that he hoped the class of '12 would carry with them in their lives: forgiveness, gratitude, and love.

"Gratitude is, in Cicero's words, not only the greatest of virtues but also the parent of all the others. For the privilege of having been in this place, at this college, surrounded by these people, you and I have so much to be thankful for. So, let's start today, now, to embrace that good fortune by feeling gratitude and expressing gratitude." (audio or video of Diver's comments)

In the commencement address that followed, NPR reporter Robert Smith '89 encouraged the graduates to develop a style of work that is unique to them; something that they contemplate at the end of a day and know only they could have done it in just that way. Departing from usual platitudes, he didn't tell the graduates to "live their dreams," but suggested that it takes time to develop one's voice and that it's okay to emulate others during the process.

Smith also noted how in the story of the hero's journey, or the epic myth, you never hear about the failures and disappointments it took to succeed, or the part of the legend where the "hero just wants to chill for the summer . . . the mighty king who just wants to figure stuff out, get his head straight." This leads to important information being ignored—all those periods that are just as significant to shaping the person we become and the voices by which we know ourselves. (audio or video of Smith's comments)

Congrats, class of 2012. We look forward to hearing your voices as well.