I want to start by saying what an honor it is to speak before such a wonderful group of students who I am proud to have called my peers for the last four years. I know we all made many memories during our time at Manchester and I want to take some time to reflect on some of those memories and the opportunities we have had.
We all share some common memories … from first-year orientation to cramming for finals and countless other tests in between. We took a variety of classes outside of our major and plenty of challenging courses within our major. Certain classes may stick out in our minds as being particularly interesting or challenging, and I hope you took the opportunity to follow those interests and develop a passion. While we may have had some different classes, different professors, and different majors, we all had a well-rounded liberal arts education.
Manchester College also provides many opportunities to get involved in the community, both locally and globally. One such opportunity is the chance to travel; the BCA program is wonderful for those who have that desire. However, all students are encouraged to study off campus at least once during Jan term. I was fortunate enough to travel to Spain and France during Jan term of my sophomore year to study the arts. Learning about the arts and culture first-hand with 20 other Manchester students was one of my favorite experiences from the last four years, and the memories I have from that trip will stick with me for a long time.
I have also travelled to Mississippi and Minnesota for spring break work trips with two different campus groups. And through the Pathways program, I had a great experience working at a homeless shelter in Colorado for a summer. With the Symphonic Band, I went to Puerto Rico for a week of sightseeing, concerts, and volunteering. These are just a few of my personal experiences, but whether you have travelled, participated in athletics, led clubs or organizations, taken exciting classes, presented research, or any of a number of other amazing opportunities, I am sure each of you has had some incredible experiences too. I hope that you have cherished and appreciated all the opportunities you have had.
I urge you to continue this appreciation into the future. I think many of us take our experiences for granted. We are fortunate to have received a rigorous, well-rounded education at Manchester College. Even if we had struggles and challenges along the way, we have overcome them to become better people. Cherish the good memories and learn from the not-so-good, for we each have unique lives to live, and have different choices presented to us. Do not fear the unknown and stay on the safe road, because we are only given one life to live, so make the most of it! We are well-equipped for whatever lies ahead, and I encourage you to love and enjoy every moment. For as singer, song-writer Rickie Jones said, “You never know when you’re making a memory.”
I have really enjoyed my time at Manchester and hope you have too. We have grown so much from our experiences both inside and out of the classroom. We all came to college expecting to learn from wise professors who help us on our journey through college and prepare us for the next phase in our lives. And, hopefully, you found that, but the journey entails so much more than studying and schoolwork. It is the moments that make you smile and laugh that mean the most.
I want to leave you with a quote: “Always remember to slow down in life; live, breathe, and learn; take a look around you and never forget anything or anyone that has the least place within your heart.”
Thank you and I wish you the best in all your future endeavors.