Lawrese Brown Student Speaker

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Commencement at its core is a celebration. Today, we are here to honor the achievements, awards and accolades bestowed upon the class of 2010.

Success is the theme of today's celebration. A term which each of us over the years has come to define differently; some of our successes are calculated by class averages, some quantified by club allegiances, many evaluated by our service to others, but all assess and acknowledge the excellence we see in one another.

There is no denying that the members of the class of 2010 have been the major components of their own accomplishments. However, today's ceremony would be incomplete without acknowledging those whose support and encouragement aided in our achievement. We must of course thank our parents, family, and loved ones; those whose nurture and unconditional advocacy cultivated our characters, instilled our ideals, and endorsed our dreams.  We must thank the faculty and staff, who not only served as our teachers and assistants, but also as our advisors, mentors and friends. We are grateful for your guidance. Finally, and most importantly, we must thank our roommates, hallmates, teammates, classmates, sorority sisters, fraternity brothers, lab partners, and lunch buddies. Simply stated, we must thank our friends. For the past four years our friends have been our biggest allies and greatest influences.  The connections we have created with each other will become lifelong keepsakes, reminders of our Gettysburg experience long beyond when Commencement has ended and college has ceased.

I am honored to be a member of Gettysburg College's class of 2010, and fortunate enough to be acquainted with many of you.  One of the ideas of sociology is that the way we perceive ourselves is impacted by others observations of us, so class of 2010, please allow me to take a moment to share with you, how I see you.

You are leaders, dreamers, record breakers, risk-takers, and visionaries.  You are a group of people with unique talents, boundless potential, and endearing attributes. Outgoing, opinionated, disciplined, determined, resourceful, and resilient, are just a few adjectives to describe our class.  You are distinct in spirit, dynamic in action, and diverse in disposition. You are rebellious by nature, courageous by choice, innovative by intention. 

We are a class of leaders because we know that leadership is action, not position; we are a collection of dreamers because we see challenges as options and not impossibility; we are a compilation of achievers, because we possess unparalleled initiative. For the past four years Gettysburg College has implored us to do great work, and our class has done them one better.

We are the leading volunteers in the community, the academic enthusiasts in the classroom, the stars on the athletic field, and the center of attention at social settings. Even without our degrees, we have already become authors, researchers, teachers, non-profit workers, public policy protégées, filmmakers, political pioneers, analysts, and media experts.
As a fellow student, I am unsure if I can offer you any sound advice about what the future holds, but I can offer you a story about growing up. Each of us arrived on campus in August of 2006 with various expectations, and the expectation for me, by most people, was that I played basketball.

The first few weeks at Gettysburg were filled with, "Your sooo tall. Do you play basketball? No. Volleyball? No." This was usually followed with a look of confusion accompanied by a dismissive gesture that implied, "Well what are you good for?"
During my years at Gettysburg, I have received some interesting commentary about my height. Many of my friends endearingly referred to me as "Giant" and when I tutored at Wee Care during my sophomore and junior year, the children called me Great Khali. Great Khali is a 7 foot 1, 420 pound Indian man who wrestles for the WWE. I have been called "abnormal," "disgustingly tall," and "a waste," all because I do not play a sport. But being this tall has taught me a valuable life lesson; other people will always have their own ideas about what you should do with your life.

I don't know if any of today's graduates can say that they are the same person now that they were when they first arrived at Gettysburg College. Hopefully, with our age has come wisdom, with our experiences have come character, and with our success has come confidence. My experiences and opportunities at Gettysburg have given me the strength to answer people with any projection about who I should be, with a proclamation about who I am. During the tenuous time of adolescence, we all become well aware of what others expect of us. But I beseech you to never let others expectations of you, overshadow your expectations of yourself.  We leave Gettysburg with more than knowledge in our respective areas of academia, but with an emergent identity. Throughout our time in college we have developed an idea of who we are, or at the very least who we want to be, which gives our lives passion and our actions purpose.

Dave Mustaine said "moving on is a simple thing, what it leaves behind is hard." While we are not sad about leaving behind the 8a.m classes, the three strike attendance policies, or cumulative final exams; we are sad to leave behind the faces we have become used to seeing daily, the routines we have developed, and the events unique to Gettysburg.  We have to say goodbye to Servo and the omelet lady, Springfest and its festivities, Frank and late nights at the library, and the Attic and its host provider events. We speak a language all our own at Gettysburg College. 

Have no fear, class of 2010, we are ready. So much of life is about timing and our time is now. We entered this campus in August of 2006 with varying expectations, but the same mission: to graduate.  And today, I have the privilege of being one of the first to tell you, mission accomplished.  

Thank You