5/11/2013

Williamson Medalist Alexis Teevens' Commencement Remarks

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The following is the text of remarks by Williamson Medalist Alexis Teevens '13 for Franklin & Marshall College's 2013 Commencement, as prepared for delivery:

Four years ago when I was graduating from high school, my mom said that graduating from college would be a much bigger deal. At the time, I was really offended. I remember thinking that she was wrong. How could four years possibly mean more to me than what had been my entire lifetime up until that point?

But obviously, here I stand four years later admitting once again that my mom is right, because these past years have been completely transformative for me, and I'm sure most of us out here feel the same way. Today is a big deal. I think it can be a little too easy to brush off graduation as a day that a lot of people get to experience, but it's important for us to remember how truly lucky we are to have had this opportunity to spend four years learning at this beautiful school.

With that, it's also important for us to spend today thanking the people who made this experience possible for us, so I'm going to take some time to do that. Coach Stoudt, you made me want to be a Diplomat. You convinced me that this school was the right place for me, and you always made me feel a part of the team. Thank you for what you did for me and what you’ve done for all the athletes you've coached here.

To all of my professors, you've taught me how to be both a critical thinker and a critical writer and how to be more comfortable expressing my ideas. This year especially, thank you to Professor Kibler and Professor Willard for giving me the opportunity to research something I genuinely cared about. And Professor Frick, thank you for being the professor who helped me open up in the classroom.

To my brother and sister: thanks for being both hilarious and supportive. Dad, thank you for all the voicemails that started, "Hey Lex, it's your old man." Mom, thank you for trusting me to make good decisions and for teaching me how to be independent. I love you all.  

And finally, to my friends that I've made here: the cross-country team, my Kappa Delta sisters, Students for Education Reform, the Writing Center, and everyone else I've gotten to spend time with: four years with all of you has gone by so fast. You've made me laugh, helped me de-stress, but more importantly, you've impressed me with your passions and your curiosities. You've made me feel a part of this community since the beginning, and that will be my biggest take away from F&M.

It's probably the case that we’ve all been able to make it to graduation, to right now, because in some way we've felt a part of something much bigger than ourselves -- we've been able to challenge ourselves so much because we've had the help of others. At least, I know that's why I’ve been able to challenge myself. It can be so terrifying to try something outside of your comfort zone, and it can be nearly impossible when you feel alone. But when I've been surrounded by friends, which I feel like I always have been here, it has been somehow easier to push myself to do things that scare me. And as Amanda said a couple nights ago in her amazing speech at the Senior Toast, we have all impacted each other by virtue of what we've done for this campus. We have all helped each other in the place where we've lived and worked together for four years, and I feel so lucky that I got to be a part of it. I owe so much to the community that is the entire class of 2013 for creating the college environment that allowed me to grow up and figure out how to be a better version of me.

As we get ready to leave this school, I hope we can all remember that vibrant community anywhere starts with one person reaching out to help another. I know we can continue to be that one person for each other, and I have faith that we can spread that support to the communities we go out to create moving forward because I think that’s the most important part of the Franklin & Marshall legacy for us to spread.

I hope everyone has a chance to say their thank-you's today, and I want to end by thanking all of you for giving me a chance to say mine publicly. Thank you, friends, for giving me a community here that makes me feel like I can continue to try things outside my comfort zone beyond this campus. Congratulations to all of you. I hope you're proud of yourselves. I hope you enjoy celebrating today and tonight, because you all truly deserve it. Thank you.

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