Ryan Jones' Remarks
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President of ECOS
August 16, 2004
Good evening friends, family, and distinguished students and welcome to Eckerd College. First I would like to thank you for your patience over the last few days. I know it was very stressful for all of you... our thoughts are with Hurricane Charley's victims throughout the state.
And now, I would like to welcome you to your new home. Not only a college, but a tradition of a vision that continues.
You know, time can be a funny thing. Three years ago, I was looking for a fresh start. I was seeking something that I couldn't really describe - it was an intangible yearning for a new environment, a community where I could really branch out and see what I was made of. I still remember all of the emotions - nervousness, excitement, timidity, and boldness, somehow all wrapped up into one. I'm sure many of you feel that way right now... I had a feeling deep down that Eckerd was the right community for me - just the one I was looking for.
Of course, it was everything I bargained for and much more. Over the next five semesters, as I gradually learned how to gain the most out of my Eckerd experience, I could feel myself developing. After awhile, I began to feel like my true home, the center of my life, was not my hometown but this campus. And I can honestly say that the best decision I have made thus far in my life was to become part of the Eckerd community.
For some, it may not be an easy transition at first - but my advice would be, whatever your initial feeling, let Eckerd College grow on you. Expose yourself to all the college has to offer - in the classroom, in the dorms, in the intramural fields, at the cafeteria, in clubs and organizations and, most importantly, within yourself. If you do these things, if you simply grab hold of what this college offers you, Eckerd will not just change you, you will change Eckerd. You will have become part of it.
You see, I can't really describe it as simply "coming to Eckerd." The phrase "I go to Eckerd" is only shorthand for a student's true relationship with this institution. I don't merely go here. You will not merely go here. You are part of it.
You are now part of Eckerd College - part of our institution. An institution with a unique heritage. All institutions have a tradition, in one form or another. These traditions carry the flame of one generation to the next. That's the very essence of an institution. At Eckerd College, we have a tradition too. It is our Vision. It never gets stale; it never becomes a dead letter or a dull routine. The Vision was first materialized by the founders of our college in 1958 by the phrase: "Not just another college."
The Vision was to create a college that was different - a place that fostered the holistic growth of each student. They believed that learning should not simply end as the student walks out the of classroom door. The responsibility of realizing that vision rested with the founders - and it rests with us today.
This is our tradition, our vision, our ethos.
And my charge to you, the class of 2008 is this: Grab hold of this vision and make it your own. Put your stamp on it. Become part of it. Don't just "go" to Eckerd College. Be Eckerd College. Carry the flame. That is our tradition. And, I hope, it will also become your personal vision.
Thank you and welcome to Eckerd College!