Senior Speaker Evan Lamb
President McCullogh-Lovell, Mr. Nicyper, Governor Shumlin, assembled professors and trustees, assorted guests, family, and friends, it is an honor to speak for the class of 2013, and I hope you'll indulge me for a moment while I take this opportunity to say we made it!
We climbed this whole mountain, folks, and the best part is that ten, fifteen, twenty years from now, this is going to seem like a day hike. But for right now, we've climbed a mountain, and from the summit, we feel powerful and vibrant, and Base Camp looks so tiny from up here. While it's only been four years since I met the other folks on my Bridges trip, that equates to a little less than one-fifth of my life. In that time, I've wriggled through caves too small to fit through with a full lung of air; mastered the art of biking over ice and snow; crashed several bicycles into the side of the dining hall at full speed; sweated bullets through the Seminar in Religion, Literature, and Philosophy; whipped up an apple pie during a power outage; fenced and won a few bouts with a martial arts master; exhausted myself to the point of hallucination in order to complete assignments; gotten lost on the Town Trail in the middle of the night without a flashlight or a shirt; been evicted from two buildings on campus; and somehow managed to come out of it with no broken bones and a completed Plan of Concentration. Now, as you may not have guessed from my clever use of a fraction earlier, I'm not a math student, but I'd bet money that every senior here has a laundry list of Marlboro experiences just as impressive as mine, if not more so. We've invested a lot of personal energy into our time here, and for me, every bruise, busted joint, and late-night hallucination has been worth it. Marlboro College, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for making it so.
I'm grateful, in particular, for this opportunity to speak for and to the class of 2013. Our graduation certainly represents the end of an era. I'm talking, of course, about the Era of Too Many People With The Same Name. In just a short time, the plurality of Evans will be a memory, and Evan Sachs, Evan Lorenzen, and I will never be confused again. Sam Auciello, also graduating, will leave Sam Bass and Sam Judson to duke it out over name rights, and Noah Farlee, also graduating, will be extracted from the surplus of Noahs, although I'm not sure Noah Bedford or Noah Woods ever took a class with Noah Farlee, as was the case when I wound up in an electronic music class with Evan Lorenzen and Evan Sachs that one year. Prospective parents, take note: coordinate so this doesn't happen again. Perhaps it's because there are so many people here who share a common marker of identity, or perhaps it's because I've met some of my most treasured friends and allies in my time here, but I feel very attached to this group of people, all of you enrolled at Marlboro, who have come to graduate or witness your fellow students graduate today. At this time, which feels so much like a parting of ways, I encourage you to celebrate how close we've become, to feel the strength of our interconnectedness, and to know that the bonds we've formed are truly valuable.
Take a moment to remember some vivid Marlboro presences from previous years. Everyone wearing a gown right now can rattle off the names of a few people they met at or in connection with Marlboro who changed their lives. Emily Kimble, Charlie Schneeweis, Simon Moody, and Courtney Kansler all jump to my mind. I can't imagine where I'd be without the Marlboro students, faculty and staff who were with me when I was a freshman, and whenever I bring them up in conversation and am answered with “who's that?” I am struck with the strangest feeling, a mix of nostalgia and sadness for those who have never met the people who brought such joy into my life. I hope that the class of 2013 has left its impact such that we are remembered so. I know for a fact that Paul Nelsen and Jerry Levy, both retiring after many years of service, and Ken Schneck, who is off to explore new opportunities at Baldwin Wallace University, will leave a lasting reverberation of presence that will affect Marlboro for years to come.
Right now, I'm standing at the top of my own personal mountain, and it feels like a tiny apotheosis. But the practical, survival-oriented part of my brain knows that the future looms tall in front of me, and to speak frankly, I am terrified of it. Soon I will come to the parts of the world that need fixing, and I will need to find shelter and sustenance to keep going. But I'm anything but alone. And now that I've proved myself to myself, now that I'm hearing “I told you so” from those people who once said “you can do it,” the next step isn't looking so shaky, and I can turn to face the future, look back over my shoulder, and tell all of you in my best action-movie voice, “Let's do this.”
I'm about as much a fan of quotations in general as I am of student loan debt, but I would like to end with a short saying from Henri-Frédéric Amiel, a Swiss philosopher whose words have stuck with me for a long time. I hope you will take them to heart as we celebrate today and wish godspeed to the Class of 2013.
“Dear Friends, We know that life is short and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us. So be swift to love, make haste to be kind.”