By Drew Lorona, Senior Class Speaker
Whitman College Commencement
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Ambitious people are annoying. They enjoy ruining things for the rest of us. Those of us that enjoy where we are and what we are doing. If I want to spend half the day with my shirt off bouncing a frisbee off of works of public art, the last thing I need is someone getting accepted to Harvard Law walking around waving that piece of paper in people's faces making me feel like I haven't taken full advantage of the fact that we have the only library in the nation that has a Red Bull sponsorship. I have a desire to stay here forever, and you, my ambitious classmates, are ruining this hope of mine. I see you going off to do great things, to cure diseases, to invent faster unicycles, to bring back clear Pepsi, and I cringe. I cringe at the sight of such potential in light of my inherent desire to maintain stagnant in my life of throwing beer bottles at mice as I play my Xbox. I like eating cold pizza. I like waking up at noon. I like wearing the same pair of jeans for two weeks, then turning them inside out and wearing them for two more. I like all of these things, I like this life, and to see you all moving past me is unsettling and troubling to my world view. If we had a yearbook signing, you would get no HAGS from me.
I have only one group to blame really, and it is the people seated behind me. The professors of this college have ingrained a desire for knowledge, growth, and wonder in all of you that I have had to fight for four long years to avoid becoming tainted with. With their sensitivity to your personal needs and a desire to help you achieve your loftiest goals, I have found my stagnation in life increasingly unrewarding. But what do you all really have to look forward to? Is the gift these professors gave you really a gift at all? Ignorance is bliss, and I see not an ignorant face in this crowd. Welcome to the real world, I say to you. These professors have given you the key to paying taxes, to mortgages, to credit reports, to child support, to bills, to resume building, to brown-nosing, and to work-related nervous ticks that make your eye twitch whenever the stock market scrolls below the headline news. The stresses of the real world are too heavy a burden when you have sitting right here in front of you a garden of Eden where you simply have to reach out and pluck you favorite brand of beer and a twenty-dollar bill off of the nearest tree branch.
Granted, there are probably several things related to Whitman you are very eager to leave behind. Having your inbox clogged with fifty emails discussing the merits of drinking carrot juice over Gatorade is probably one of them. Watching two-hundred naked classmates run drunkenly around Ankeny field is hopefully another. I can imagine you are all more than eager to give up on this sickeningly tight-knit community in which you can approach someone with a smile and actually have it returned. This doesn't happen in the real world. If you smile at strangers, someone assumes you are crazy. I once smiled at a police officer in Houston and ended up spending six-weeks in federal prison for counterfeiting money. The world is a scary place, so why go anywhere? Why leave this place of warmth and security? I am sure the college could use the money, I hear they are trying to put a giant neon sign on top of Memorial so that you can see it from outer space. Whitman currently doesn't have a graduate program, but if they had four-hundred undergrads who didn't want to leave, they'd be forced to teach us something. Or they would call campus security, but they couldn't catch all of us.
If by this point I have been unable to convince you to stay here at Whitman, I doubt anything will. You all have made up your minds. You have decided that the world out there, outside the Whitman Bubble, is better. You've got no use for old, reliable Whitman. You will all move on to become investment bankers or sanitation engineers. Professional bowlers and big game hunters. All the careers that guarantee the least fun for the most money. Because that's really what all this was about. Fun. Having fun for four years while the real world got put on hold. And now, selfishly, you want to take this away from me. You want to move on, you think we should see other people. If that is how you really feel, if you feel we have grown apart, then perhaps this separation is for the best. I will stay here, among the ducks and trees, the fountains and the fraternities, and I will save you all a spot. If the world runs you over like an out-of-control freight train, don't hesitate to visit your old friend Drew at Whitman College. Just make sure you bring some money to donate to the school while you're at it.
April 27, 2006, news release:
Drew Lorona to Serve as Senior Class Speaker