Gettysburg College Commencement Student Address
Jenna C. Stokes '07
May 20, 2007
Good afternoon President Will, Distinguished Faculty Members, Fellow Students,
Family and friends
We, the class of 2007, have made it to this bittersweet day, the culmination of our four years of hard work and fond memories. We have excitedly awaited our graduation when we would receive our diplomas, wear our caps and gowns, and attain the distinction of being graduates of Gettysburg College. Yet many of us also felt a sense of loss as this day drew near. From the moment we stepped on campus, we became part of the Gettysburg Family and over the years, Gettysburg College has become a home for many of us.
We can probably all remember what our first day of orientation was like. We began with a frantic morning of locating our dorm, thanking upperclassmen for their help moving in our things, rapidly unpacking, saying hello to our new roommate, and saying goodbye to our families as we rushed out the door to find Stine Lake. There we met with members of our halls, played games like Two Truths and a Lie, and eagerly spoke to our fellow classmates with whom we would be spending our first year. After a long day of meeting and greeting, we prepared ourselves for a walk to the Evergreen cemetery to hear the Gettysburg Address. At first many of us did not look forward to the walk because we had been constantly on the go throughout the day, but when it began, we were met by upperclassmen standing on their porches and waving, and by members of the Gettysburg Community who had come out to meet the 175th Gettysburg College Class. This event and the ice cream social that followed allowed us time to form some of the friendships we still maintain today.
Time is such an important factor in our lives. Most of our lives are spent rushing, rushing from one place to another, rushing to finish a paper, or rushing to reach an 8 o'clock class on a morning that we accidentally slept in. The moments that matter most, however, are those that we've made by taking the time to stop, to engage in an intelligent conversation, to get to know those around us, and to enjoy our college experience. We spent time the last four years, meeting friends at servo and sampling one of the 27 different combos of chicken and pasta. We spent late nights together at LDs sharing smoothies. Many of us rode toilets at Spring Fest or participated in the Jell-O Tug of War. We met new friends trying to gather a dozen people for Thanksgiving Dinner. We witnessed ghost tours, Lamas outside servo and the death and reincarnation of Ike's Mexican Restaurant. Many of us have spent the eve of the first day of classes laughing at the hypnotist show. We stayed up late studying for exams together, meeting for hotdogs and donuts at midnight madness, and having Madden tournaments in our rooms.
Additionally, we took the time to get involved in activities on campus that have stimulated our growth as leaders; we attended interesting lectures to spark our intellectual growth; and many of us participated in GIV day, tutoring at Big Brother's and Big Sisters, or service projects off campus to enhance our commitment to making a difference in our world.
We have all made a difference on the Gettysburg College Campus by being part of the 175th class, by engaging in our education, by getting involved on campus, and by creating relationships that will span for long periods of time. Now, members of the class of 2007, it's our time to make a difference in other areas of our world. Some of us will be entering the work force after college; some may be entering the service or settling down to have families, others will continue their education in graduate school, medical school, or law school. No matter what the plan, or even if the plan is not complete yet, never forget the connections you've made while at Gettysburg, the friendships you've formed, or the challenges you've faced. Hard work and determination brought you to this moment. Use that same determination to face challenges after college, to continue on the path of life-time learning, and to eventually make this world better than you found it.
On this day, members of the class of 2007, I challenge you to take the time to reflect on your past four years at Gettysburg, to better understand the challenges you've overcome to receive your diploma, and to remember all of the people you've met who have changed your life. Gettysburg College administrators, staff, and faculty members, we thank you for providing many of those challenges, for supporting us and allowing us to grow, and for being our friends and family here at Gettysburg. Thank you to all the families that nurtured their children's creativity and inspired them to receive a great education with which they could fulfill their dreams. Finally I'd like to personally thank all of the members of my class who have challenged themselves to make it to this day. Best wishes to you all for a life-time of fond memories.