A Salute to the Graduates

On the privilege of witnessing the epic transformation from freshmen to graduates.

By Chris Lydgate ’90 | September 1, 2014

There’s a gleam in their eye, a bounce to their step. With their mortars perched at jaunty angles, their robes billowing in the breeze, they march in the grand procession from the big top on the Great Lawn, their hard-won diplomas finally in hand.

As they strode into the Quad to hug their families and friends, I felt a sense of wonder. I remembered their first, hesitant days on campus, when they didn’t know where the Psych Building was or how to pronounce timê. Watched them sitting in Commons, turning the pages of the Republic, and searching for the meaning of justice. Caught them thumbing through dog-eared books by Beauvoir and Rilke on the SU porch. Saw them grow their hair, dye their hair, cut their hair, and let it grow out again. Heard them debate transfinite induction, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, and the biomechanics of wasp venom. Read their articles in the Quest and their blog posts from Kathmandu. Beheld them immersing themselves in their disciplines like pearl divers plunging into the deep. Sat through their oral exams as they defined their terms and defended their conclusions.

I watched them grow—which is a privilege in itself. But I also witnessed something more profound. I saw how the pursuit of knowledge is itself a transformative experience, changing the mind that seeks it, opening the door to new ideas, new possibilities, new adventures.

By the time you read this, the class of ’14 will be scattered to the corners of the earth, and a new crop of freshlings will have arrived on campus. The cycle will begin anew. I look forward to showing them where the Psych Building is.

Tags: Alumni, Students