Ladies and Gentlemen, Faculty, Staff, and my fellow students: Good Morning.
I was originally led to believe that the senior speaker receives a $3000 honorarium. My original plan was to use at least half of that amount to get someone to write a great speech for me. As I have subsequently found that this is not the case, I can only hope that my own words will prove to be adequate.
Before I begin my speech I would like to thank a few people on a personal note because I honestly believe that, were it not for their continuing support, I would not be standing here in front of you today.
I would like to thank my parents Rahul and Rajeshawari Agarwal, Geraldine Pitman, Meg Mott, John Willis, Hilary Baker, John Sheehy, Carrie Weikel, Nancy Pike, as well as all my friends - old and new, and finally, the larger Marlboro community. I owe more to all of you than it is possible to imagine.
Also, I would like to wish all the mothers present in the audience a very happy Mother's Day. I hope that your children will continue to make you proud.
What is it that defines our experience here at Marlboro? Three hundred people placed together on a hill far away from civilization, forced to battle not only the hugely demanding academic requirements, but also the fierce winter, and an extreme sense of isolation from the rest of the world.
Marlboro teaches us to be strong. To survive at Marlboro we must take control of our own education. We must learn to not only form opinions, but also to defend those opinions in an extremely dynamic and challenging academic environment.
We are extremely privileged to have a phenomenal faculty. Their commitment to our education is simply unparalleled. I think that we would be hard pressed to find another college where students and faculty share the same bond that we experience here at Marlboro.
We are also privileged to have an administration that is willing to listen to the voice of the student body as well as a board of trustees that is invested in continuing to uphold the ideals and values of this college.
But more than anything else, we are privileged to have one another. We are privileged to live in a community where we all learn how to support and help one another at all times.
Over the past four years, this community has suffered two unimaginable losses. David Pierce and Ryan Larson were more than just students at Marlboro. They were an integral part of this community and their loss has affected us all in profound ways. They were both individuals who found a second home in Marlboro. They loved this place and everything it stood for. I believe that it is important for us to remember that and to honor their memory.
At Marlboro, every loss affects the community as whole. After both these tragedies occurred, the community engaged in a collective healing process. We all watched out for one another, we all started to help in whatever way we could. It is during times like these that we understand what an amazing community we live in. it is during times like these that we understand the true value of our experience at Marlboro.
Four years have gone by and yet it feels like yesterday when we think back to our first writing portfolio submission, our first all-nighter, our first midnight breakfast, our first life-changing student-teacher interaction, our first bold voyage on the party barge.
Today is the last day we will ever be students at Marlboro college but we will be members of this community for as long as we live.
Let us remember the valuable lessons we have learned at Marlboro. Let us always remember the importance of community and let us be good community members wherever our lives may take us.
Let us remember that human life is a fragile thing. Let us always remember to take care of one another. Let us remember to love and respect one another.
This last line might have seemed like an appropriate place to end my speech, but I think that there is one more important thing that we must always remember. We must never lose the ability to occasionally smile and laugh at ourselves. Hence, I will leave you with the words of a true cultural icon that I certain most of you will recognize..."Thank you...and please, come again."