Marlboro College

NewsSenior Address

Phil Pool

On behalf of the class of 2004, I would like to welcome each of you.

Transition. That what's today's all about. Yesterday, we were students. Our worlds revolved around us--our growth, our enrichment, our improvement, our thoughts, our ideas. Starting today though, nobody will give a rats ass about your ideas, or for heavens sake your Plan of Concentration, unless they have a vested interest in doing so. Today, this distinguished faculty releases us from their care, guidance, and support. In doing so, they acknowledge the growth that has occurred in and transformed each of us. Simultaneously, they boot us out into the real world. Today, like it or not, we become citizens. Today, we assume a new role in, and responsibility to, the world.

What a beautifully ego-centric world we inhabited here at Marlboro. Many of us spent four years of our lives in this place, some of us spent a few more, some a few less. Never the less, many of us have not cooked a single meal or washed a single dish, save the gin and tonic glass, through our entire tenures. For the most part, we have not shoveled the walk, mowed the grass, or cleaned our own bathrooms either. Further, we enjoyed membership to the local spa, access to endless trips from the Outdoor Program, the services of an entire committee committed to throwing parties. To some, these amenities were essential services that let them either release the stress associated with the academic intensity of this place, or enabled them to concentrate on, and hopefully excel at, their academic endeavors. Regardless, without these cushy little fringe benefits, life is going to get a little tougher after today.

On the flip side, we leave behind a world full of screeching peacocks, endless power outages, debilitating winters, and my personal favorite, all those dynamite-driven construction projects. I will never forget the day when—way back before they started blasting the safety horn before igniting the dynamite—I watched as an unexpected blast cause some poor unsuspecting student throw herself to the ground like a soldier. Well, she lived, but I remember my advisor remarking around that same time, "We seem to get an email announcement every time someone loses their yoga mat, but forget about being notified before the earth is going to start shaking." Oh memories; if only Town Meeting could had been as exciting as those early explosions.

As we leave this hill, this greenhouse of personal growth if you will, we each assume a responsibility to our fellow citizens. Why? Because our time at Marlboro has been about us and our growth, and now it is our turn to give back. Fortunately, our time here endowed all of us with a at least one quality that prepares us for the world we are about to enter. Unfortunately that one thing is not a repertoire of employable job skills, and unfortunately, our hard ability to sleep through the cry of a horny peacock at 5 in the morning won't make us better citizens either. What we walk away with today, to steal an idea from John Sheehy, is the capacity to get interested in ideas. That is, the ability to take interest in, explore, dedicate ourselves to, and influence the issues and events taking place in the world around us. It is a beautiful thought to consider the issues, projects and goals that we as a class will take interest in and dedicates ourselves to in the months and years to come.

I leave you with two pieces of advice. First, never, for even a second, fail to appreciate the resources that you, as an American and soon to be college graduate, have at your fingertips; more importantly, do not neglect the responsibility associated with merely having access to these resources. The world is full of injustice and inequality—do your part to address these issues. Second and lastly, when we go out into the real world, let's not forget about each other. Collectively, as a class, we have tremendous potential to influence the world. Well, class of 2004, we did it. Let's get out there and kick some butt!
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