Stephen Carter and Dru Johnson
Stephen Carter: Winston Churchill once said, “I can think of nothing greater than the 2007 graduating class of Whitman College.” Friends, today let us dedicate ourselves to Mr. Churchill’s words. As we go forth out into the real world, let us resolve to be the best Whitman College graduating class ever from 2007. Before we begin we’d like to take a moment to be sure to thank all of the people here today who have touched our lives so deeply. Staff, faculty, families, Tony Cabasco, and everybody else who has made today possible. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Dru Johnston: You’re welcome, Stephen. Dictionary.com defines commencement as “ARTICLE NOT FOUND.” But it means so much more than that. It means “end of something.” Today we end our lives as college students as we….
Stephen: Uh. Dru I’m gonna have to stop you right there.
Stephen: First off, “article not found”? How did you spell commencement?
Dru: Uh. K..
Stephen: Okay. Secondly, commencement doesn’t mean end, it means beginning.
Dru: No it doesn’t. That’s convoction!
Stephen: No! That’s convocation! Anyway, today, as we are ending our college career and beginning our new life, we thought it would be nice to give a speech to commemorate our time together, and to truly emphasize the value of our Whitman experience.
Dru: We thought of a lot of different topics to base our speech on, but ultimately had to rule most of them out.
Stephen: We thought maybe we could talk about our uniting bond of all taking core, but for some reason we couldn’t remember a single thing about the books.
Dru: It’s almost as if we didn’t read any of the books!
Dru: We thought about writing a speech entitled “Meeting our millennium promises” But Jeffrey Sachs apparently saw our speech and plagiarized it… thanks Jeffrey.
Stephen: Yeah, that Marshall Plan stuff, lifted right off the page. We even made an elaborate metaphorical speech comparing our time here to the Teenage Mutant ninja turtles.
Dru: It was entitled: “From Michelangelo to Leonardo, an undergraduate life examined”
Stephen: “Don’t let the shredders shout down the better Aprils of our nature”
Dru: But we figured it was above you guys.
Stephen: So, finally, after sifting through all of the possible topics in the world, we realized that we are really in a unique time right now. We stand today on the border between being students and being alumni, between having meal swipes and actually having to pay for our own food, between academia and alcoholism.
Dru: More than any other time, we are in a great position to comment on what it truly means to be a Whittie. What is it about the Whitman experience that truly defines who we are? We’ve certainly changed quite a bit since our young, innocent faces came here in 2003.
Stephen: When we arrived the current Freshman class, the class of 2010, were early high- schoolers, still dealing with puberty and voice changes.
Dru: Now, some of you are sleeping with them. When we arrived here, we had a president who stole an election and misled this country into war.
Stephen: Now we have George Bridges. When I arrived here, I was just a boy. And it was here that I became a man. Last night. On this very stage.
Stephen: But what’s really changed is that we are all leaving as much more well-rounded individuals due to the liberal arts education we received.
Dru: What is a liberal arts education? Liberal arts has come to mean studies that are intended to provide general knowledge and intellectual skills, rather than more specialized occupational, scientific or artistic skills.
Stephen: Good Research.
Stephen: But more specifically, it means that science majors can write beautiful poetry and understand the futility of their stupid lives, and we, as humanities majors, know our way around the science lab.
Dru: Which is good because we’ll know how to clean the place when that’s the only job we can get.
Stephen: But our critical thinking skills are now fully developed and after four years, we are ready for the world outside of Whitman. It’s going to be hard to leave… but as our class leaves its mark on this campus, a new one takes it place.
Dru: It’s the circle of life.
Stephen: And it moves us all.
Dru: It seems strange that in just a year people that we don’t even know will be walking on our Ankeny field, sitting in our library, renting our DGs. But if our liberal arts education has taught us anything its that times change and people change, but friends stay the same.
Stephen: Dru, wasn’t that the tagline for American Pie 2?
Dru: Uh huh.
Stephen: I think what Dru is trying to say is that our liberal arts education has equipped us with the tools to move beyond this transition in our lives. There is a Woody Allen quote that I think applies here. I am paraphrasing, but speaking about the possibility that after death, all that awaits us is an infinite void he said “eternal nothingness is fine, as long as you are particularly well dressed for it.” We don’t know what awaits us out in the real world. We won’t have the comforts of a health center, or a 24-hour library, or a TKE house. And while it may seem like we are stepping out into some kind of infinite void, we have the preparation of a liberal arts education.
Dru: For all the jokes we can make about how we have changed since coming to Whitman, we have to admit one undeniable fact: that we are a class of leaders. And we are leaders because we may not know everything life will throw at us, but at Whitman we have transformed from precocious high schoolers into capable adults.
Stephen: It is not only possible, but it is now our duty to take what we have learned about ourselves here, and go forward. But as we leave this school, lets not forget how it has shaped us as individuals
Dru: And as I look out at all of my peers, I couldn’t imagine spending the last four years with anyone else. I feel as though I grew up with you, and we will look forward to reading the Whitman magazine in the future and learning of your accomplishments, your marriages and your death.
Stephen: To the class of 2007, we love you, and congratulations. We’ll leave you with these parting words, originally spoken by a wise old philosopher. He says, “It is our choices, Harry, that define who we are.”
Dru: So as you go out there and do great things, never forget who you are and where you came from.
Stephen: And send Whitman money.
Dru: Thank you, congratulations, and to my parents who have given me support, you’re welcome.