Before I begin, I’d like to give few quick shout outs. First, I would like to thank all the professors, staff, and administration for all of the support and inspiration that has made our time at F&M so awesome. I want to thank Mr. Andy Rouse for making my personal F&M experience special. I’d also like to give a shout out to the 17 other F&M football players graduating today. And another one to a very special lady Dip on the swim team. Most of all, I want to thank my family. You taught me what it means to be a good person: what it means to stand upright and be strong and what it means to do for others.
Okay, now that I got the mushy sentimental stuff out of the way, I’m going to move on to some more mushy sentimental stuff. A few weeks ago I ran into a friend who lived across the hall from me during our first year at a social gathering at a house on West James. Shortly into the conversation he told me, “I wouldn’t trade my F&M experience for all of the money in the world.” Granted he had had a few cocktails, but, Dr. P, I think I just found you your new marketing director. Then he continued on to say that it was the people that really shaped his F&M experience. I couldn’t agree more. While each of us has had a unique F&M experience, it wouldn’t be the same or it may not even exist if it weren’t for the relationships we’ve forged over the past four years. Take a moment to think of all of the people who have shaped our experiences, and ultimately influenced our individual growth. From the professor who pushed you, to your best friend and roommate of four years, to your prank-playing dysfunctional freshman hall mates, to the person you had a two-hour conversation with at a Phi Kappa Tau party. We have been a source of strength and support for one another. Together we have helped each other grow and carve out our individual paths here at F&M. So let’s hear a round of applause for one another.
As we move on to the next phase of our lives, we cannot forget what our relationships here at F&M taught us. We need to harness what we’ve learned to successfully deal with the challenges that lie ahead. So here are three things I learned from my relationships at F&M.
First, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Professor Davis, you may not want to hear this, but I don’t think I could’ve made it through cell biology lab if it weren’t for the help of Liz Heppenheimer. As technology and knowledge rapidly progresses, it becomes more and more impossible to know everything and be an independent maverick. So we can’t be afraid to ask for help and collaborate with others.
Second, laughter is good for the soul. In my travels down to Myrtle Beach I came across a bumper sticker that read, “We do not stop laughing because we age. We age because we stop laughing.” Living with five of my best friends on the football team for the past two years, I’ve had enough laughs to keep me young forever. You guys showed me that having fun, learning to laugh, and even some occasional tomfoolery, is healthy as long as I have a bathing suit on, especially during difficult times in your life.
Lastly, be empathetic. Not just to your friends but also to strangers. My roommate, Sam Dickinson, has helped me through difficult times in my life simply because he is willing to listen and understand my struggles. And I’ve witnessed him offer the same support to complete strangers. And to make this world a better place we need to be empathetic to the struggles of our fellow human beings.
So to conclude, think about what the relationships you’ve forged at F&M have taught you. I want to thank everyone here who has shaped my personal experience at F&M: my teachers, college administrators and professional staff, my teammates, and fellow students. You have prepared me to embrace whatever lies ahead in life. To my classmates, especially, I cannot wait to see you at homecoming in the fall. And I can’t wait to see the positive impact we will have on the world because of the positive impact we have had on each other. In the words of Sara Bareilles, “I wanna see us be brave.” Thank you.