Senior Speaker Lee Collyer's address
Ladies and gentlemen, faculty, staff, and students: hi.
I heard a quote recently that has made me think a lot about the world we are heading into. Here goes: You know the world is messed up when the best rapper is white, the best golfer is black, the tallest guy in the NBA is Chinese, the French are calling the US arrogant, Germany doesn't want to go to war and the three guys running the country are named Bush, Dick and Colon, and 44 million Americans are still without adequate health care.
Marlboro College is a bubble, an eco-system like none other. Most of us have spent four years in near isolation, trying to analyze and dissect the world we are about to walk into at every angle possible. The problem is, we have been doing our analysis from vantage point of Neptune. Yes I know, many of us have traveled extensively, and even lived in other countries, but we are between the ages of 20 and 30. How can any of us claim that we know what we are in for in the coming years. In addition, we have tried to understand ourselves, our friends and neighbors to the best of our abilities; all while finishing up a body of work larger than most master's theses. The chances of success seem pretty bleak don't they?
Now just think for a moment about the changes you have seen from the individuals in this senior class. Parents, try to remember the child you dropped off here for the first time. And when you get outside, look at the adult they have become. Somehow, thanks to the efforts of this dedicated faculty and staff, and the rigorously academic, isolated environment we have called home for the past 2 to 6 years, we are prepared to venture out into the world we have read and heard so much about.
While I feel that Marlboro has prepared us as much as possible for the world outside of this bubble, I do not feel that many of us are prepared for the burden that the degree we are about to receive will place upon us. Roughly 25 percent of the United States 1 percent of the world population, (plus 75 people or so), now have a four-year college degree.
I know we don't like to talk about it, and I know most of try to hide it as much as possible, but whether we like it or not, the BA or BS which we are about to receive places us into an elite class. And further separates us from the world we are about to walk into.
By becoming these informed, reasonable and capable adults, we have made this a better world than it was before we got here. In addition, with the class we have just gained membership into, comes a burden that all of us will carry the rest of our lives, but most of us will probably ignore. It's tough to walk out of here with this on our shoulders, but we have fought for four years to attain it, and now it is our responsibility to acknowledge it. I guess that is what I'm doing up here today. I'm not saying that we should all go out and join the Peace Corps or start the next Habitat for Humanity. I just hope we all realize that no matter where we came from or where we are going, we should feel privileged to have had honor to be here at all, to work with this faculty and have gotten the education we all worked so hard for.
I'm just as excited as I am scared to think of the world that we are about to walk into. And while I promised I'd leave him out of this speech, there is no better explanation for my fear than the earliest statements of Mr. W. Bush after September 11. With the ear of the entire nation, he had one of those rare opportunities to set the country on an entirely different path, and what did he tell us to do? "Shop." He told us to put our faith in the economy and go shopping. Just imagine for a second the county we would be walking into right now if he had told us to go out and volunteer in our communities, teach a kid to read, give something of ourselves. So be the person you have fought so hard to be and remember where you are now.