Blake Johnson's Remarks
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August 7, 2009
Good evening friends, family, distinguished members of the Eckerd Community, and welcome Class of 2013. As the President of the Eckerd College Organization of Students, it is my great pleasure to welcome you into this community and to welcome you home.
It was not that long ago that I was sitting exactly where you are today, full of anticipation for the coming year and eager to begin the next chapter of my life. Today marks the beginning of your story. Today you become part of a powerful tradition. Today you become a member of an energetic community, one that inspires ingenuity, values character, and empowers students to participate in change.
Here, you will never be a number or a nameless face. Your professors will not hesitate to contact you when you hit that snooze button one too many times, or when you decide Plato is better learned at the beach. Here, you are free to grow intellectually. Your hunger for knowledge and willingness to explore new ideas will be met and challenged by an equally passionate group of students and faculty.
I encourage you to not only look back on what led you to this point today, but to look forward to all that you have yet to achieve. Recognize your potential and all that Eckerd has to offer. At this moment, you have entered a new realm of possibility. The next four years are yours. During your time here, you could travel across the world to Ghana to build community centers or mentor orphans, you could study philosophy and art in Byzantine monasteries, or you could work side by side a professor researching biogeochemical processes and the implications past climate changes have on those of the future. Each of your stories will be unique and personal.
If you take anything from me today, let it be these three pieces of advice.
The first: Be a perpetual student. Fully immerse yourself in a life of learning, exploration and self discovery. As you prepare to light your candle today, know the significance of that light and all that it reveals. Know that that tiny flame held next to those of your peers, has the ability to bring great light to our time. I encourage you to not only keep your own flame burning, but to continually share that light and illuminate the minds of those around you.
My second piece of advice is to hold onto your imagination. Like the founders of this college, know that you can accomplish anything and overcome any hurdle, with an open mind, conviction, and perseverance. Try not to settle with how the world is at this very moment, but imagine how the world could be better.
My third and final piece of advice is don't let life happen to you. Bradley Whitford put it best, "You have a choice. You can either be a passive victim of circumstance or you can be the active hero of your own life. Action is the antidote to apathy and cynicism and despair. You will inevitably make mistakes. Learn what you can and move on. At the end of your days, you will be judged by your gallop, not by your stumble."
Class of 2013, you have the distinct opportunity to join us in setting the stage for the next fifty years at Eckerd College. I welcome you into this community, and look forward to all that you will experience, all that you will gain, and all that you will accomplish during your time here.