Kees Nordin '13
August 27, 2012
Thank you Dean Baer, President Gearan, Board Chair Maureen Collins Zupan, and members of the HWS community. Especially our guest today, Charles Best.
To the incoming Classes of 2016: congratulations on finishing your first day of college. Believe or not, I am jealous. Jealous of course that you are just beginning your four years here, just as I start working on my last chapter.
I am so excited about the energy that you bring to our HWS community. Like you, I sat in those seats during my first Convocation, wrestling with my future at the Colleges, and I remember calling my mother that night and telling her that I was not sure about what I would major in yet. My advice is to keep your parents guessing on that subject. Like I told my mother three years ago, being hesitant to choose just means you love all your courses.
For me, when the pressure of deciding on an academic direction culminated into action, I could think of no better person to ask for advice than President Gearan. I emailed him directly to set up a meeting.
And a week later we were sitting in his office, discussing everything from politics to the history of the Finger Lakes. Leaving his office that day, I realized the deep commitment HWS has to cultivating students and that sentiment starts at the top.
Maybe tomorrow, there will be 600 new e-mails in President Gearan's inbox. [To President Gearan] Sorry. But I tell you this story to encourage you to remain relentlessly optimistic about what you can do in your four years. Here, there isn't a single academic option outside of your reach.
I want you to consider the excitement you felt today. Think about all of the ideas running through your head about what this semester, year, and even four years could be. Find your passions and chase them.
The best part about being a member of this community is that there are people sitting here today who believe they will create the next Facebook. Someone sitting here today may find the cure for cancer. Most of all, we all know that we will leave an impact on the world.
Now, as a political science major, I cannot let this opportunity pass without commenting on our ability to make an impact on the next four years in this country. With such a close race coming up this fall, there are many people concerned about the apathetic nature of the young voting demographic. That’s us.
Those critics are correct: we do vote less than any other age demographic. Yet, we also volunteer more than any other age demographic. And as far as I'm concerned, volunteering is just as politically active–but both are equally important. My advice is register to vote and keep serving the greater global community.
Do not forget that we are a generation whose dreams have been tempered by two wars, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters. Yet we push forward with the same relentless optimism that got us to HWS today.
It is that optimism embodied in the words of the philosopher and educator Horace Mann:
A different world cannot be built by indifferent people.
I look forward to spending my last year here with you. Thank you.