Good morning and thank you, President Ruscio, for your invitation to speak here today and your gracious introduction.
Today is a day of achievement on which we all have reason to celebrate. Our parents are here to celebrate our starting the next chapter of our lives. They have watched us grow through the past two decades and pushed us further to reach for our goals. The faculty is here to celebrate our academic accomplishments. They have pushed us to think beyond our limits and comfort zone, but most importantly to expand our thoughts. We are here to celebrate our growth and development throughout our lives, but, in particular, over our past four years.
These past four years have been some of the best days of our lives. Since arriving here as freshmen-sorry, I mean first-year students-we have gone to many classes, many parties and seen many changes. We saw the installation of a new president and a new provost; the retirements of legendary professors; General Education requirements became FDR requirements; a new registration process; the end of Buffalo Creek; and, most recently, a new spring term. But through all of these changes, many relationships have been forged. Our time here has been filled with memories that have shaped us into the individuals who will walk across this stage today.
After arriving here in 2006, most of us had no idea what to expect. Rob Rain gave us a very serious introduced us to the honor system, Burr Datz sang us his rendition of "If I Could Change the World," and Neville Fogarty showed us why he was smart enough to be on "Jeopardy." We spent that first week being introduced to the different aspects of the campus, but most importantly, we spent time together.
We will never forget the new member who made us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on an ironing board outside of the library, the midnight breakfasts before exams during fall term, or Marquita's and Mark's rants during the comedy show "Wednesday Night Live." We have all hit rough patches over the past four years, but even those times have helped shape us into the individuals we are today.
Washington and Lee has given us a foundation to build our lives upon. We have learned and experienced what it means to be honorable and have been equipped with the tools to handle the situations life will throw at us. I'm sure President Ruscio will be able to give us several moments in which our alumni have used the tools that I speak of.
Our final year at Washington and Lee has been filled with fun, but also some sadness as we spent our last moments together on campus. Our legacy has been left and won't be forgotten. We aren't simply a graduating class. We are the Class of 2010, and no one will ever forget that as we prepare for the challenges ahead.
Now is the time for us to reflect back on our four years here. Several moments seem to stick out in my head. The traditional two freshmen who kissed during orientation week at the freshman barbecue, as Southern Comfort sang its rendition of "Kiss the Girl." All the late-night conversations that we have had with the Traveller van drivers that everyone thought really weren't listening. And for me, the moment I passed my swim test. For those of you that don't know-when everyone jokes about the senior who waits 'til the last moment to take their swim test-that was me. But I passed, and that is all that matters.
In just a few moments, we are going to walk across this stage and go from being seniors to Washington and Lee alumni. Becoming a W&L alum is a very prestigious moment. It not only marks the moment when we officially become an adult, but it also carries the largest sense of accomplishment of our lives up to this point. As we go forth into the world to make our marks, this distinction will always be with us. It is the symbol of the pride and honor that we have worked so hard to achieve.
With this new role come new responsibilities. The alumni who came before us paved the way for our successes and have continued to give back to the institution that helped them to where they are today. Now it is our turn to share this responsibility. The time and resources that we have been fortunate to take advantage of over the past four years must be replenished for the next generation of students so that our legacy can live on. Although we still have growing to do ourselves, the alumni before us in the chapters around the world at our next destination will help continue that growth.
Yesterday at Baccalaureate, we heard from Reverend William Klein about integrity as he urged us to pay attention to our environment and who we are. Reverend Klein reminded us that integrity is based on paying attention. As graduates, we must take notice of the gifts this place has given us, and live according to our motto: not unmindful of the future. Remember what this University has instilled in us and carry it with us as we continue on our journey.