Lauren Meehan, from Bel Air, Maryland, graduated (Summa Cum Laude) with honors in both of her majors Political Science and Management as well as her Spanish minor. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, Pi Lambda Sigma the National Economics and Pre-Law Honor Society, Pi Sigma Alpha the National Political Science Honor Society, and Order of Omega the National Greek Honor Society. Throughout her time at Gettysburg, she has been involved with a variety of co-curricular activities. This past year she was Co-Chair of the Senior Class Gift Campaign, Editor-in-Chief of the Yearbook, Chair of the College Life Advisory Committee, a Class of 2009 Senator, and the Special Projects Coordinator for the Office of Student Activities. Next year, Lauren will be attending the law school at Washington & Lee University.
I am sure that many of you can relate to describing today as bitter sweet. It's strange to think that in a few hours we will leave a place that we have called home for the past four years.
Hi I'm Lauren Meehan and...
On August 24, 2005, like many of you, my Gettysburg College experience began. The feeling of butterflies in my stomach was present as my parents pulled up to Rice Hall. The move-in volunteers, or "happy helpers" as my parents called them, swarmed the van. I followed them up to my room and began to unpack. My roommate was a friend from high school and it was nice to see a familiar face. As we unpacked, one of our new hall mates walked by in his towel and one our parents jokingly stated, "Welcome to College". We were now college students and this was our new home.
After a morning filled with ice-breaker activities we were escorted to Convocation where we were officially welcomed as the Class of 2009. I remember Dean Ramsey explaining how walking through Penn Hall was one of the traditions of Gettysburg and that in four years we would walk through from the opposite side to receive our diplomas. On that day, the year 2009 seemed so far away. Looking back now, it feels like just yesterday that we were welcomed as first-years and had four entire years ahead of us to create our own unique Gettysburg "experience". As the welcoming activities drew to a close, tears welled in my eyes as I said goodbye to my family and went nervously to meet the rest of my class at dinner. Little did I know then, that the classmates I met that night would become some of my best friends.
We each have a different story to tell after four years at Gettysburg. Yet we are all connected in some way; through a sports team or a class, a club or a theater production, a music group or a research group for a professor, studying abroad or an immersion trip, a Greek life organization or by living in the same building. Everyone talks about 6 degrees of separation but at Gettysburg College it is probably no more than two. While we may not know each other on a personal level, we all have some Gettysburg experiences in common. Over the past four years, we have organized, supported, or attended a number of new events on campus. During our first year, we performed in and witnessed the opening of the newly renovated Majestic Theater. During our sophomore year, we implemented the new points system and Honor Code, won rookie of the year for the first St. Jude's Up 'Til Dawn event and the first Relay for Life, celebrated the 175th Anniversary of Gettysburg College and were Centennial Conference Champions in Volleyball and Women's and Men's Lacrosse. During our junior year, we planned the first Homecoming Pep Rally, opened the Eisenhower Institute on campus, and were Centennial Conference Champions in Men's Lacrosse and Women's Swimming and the Men's Basketball advanced to the "Sweet 16". During our senior year, we broke ground on the new Athletic Facility, were Centennial Conference Champions in Women's Swimming and Men's Basketball, and elected President Riggs as the 14th President of Gettysburg College.
While sharing all of these events has united us as a class, we also have developed ties to alumni and future graduates. We have all shared Gettysburg's unique location. Surrounded by Civil War battlefields, we have had the unique opportunity to watch Civil War re-enactors or to be a Civil War reenactor, to listen to ghost stories or to be convinced that our residence halls are haunted. We have also all shared Gettysburg's unique personality. We have had the opportunity to develop close relationships with faculty, administrators and fellow students, spend time at the homes of our professors and attend receptions at the Presidents House, and enjoy events like Springfest, Attic happy hours, and the traditional Senior Week vacation to Myrtle Beach. These are just a few examples but they are the types of experiences that serve as the common bond of past, present, and future Gettysburg graduates.
There is an observation that a professor shared with our class last fall that I would like to share with all of you. He pointed out civilization's long standing tradition of summarizing a person's entire life by placing a tiny dash between two years. Basically, all of that person's accomplishments and experiences are represented by that one, tiny dash. He then told us to make that dash worthwhile wherever we are. Thinking about the dash that symbolizes the years from 2005 to 2009, as a class, as individuals, and as a college we have made significant contributions to that dash of which we should all be proud. Upon receiving our diplomas today, we resume our efforts to add to that dash. I leave today, confident that Gettysburg College has provided each and every one of us with the knowledge, the ability to think critically, and the understanding of the importance of service to others that is necessary to build a dash that will make us, our families, our College, and our world proud. As we say our goodbyes today, remember that Gettysburg College is always our home away from home.