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Eckerd College Commencement
Speeches and Remarks

Craig Scott Altemose '06

My friends and fellow members of the Class of 2006: Congratulations! Today, you are officially graduates of Eckerd College, and you are in one of the most enviable positions in the history of our planet.

Of all the billions of species that inhabit this world, you were born a human being, an animal that has the ability to analyze its surroundings and make decisions of relevance to its well-being. You just as easily could have been born a salamander or a fire ant.

Of all the times to be born, you were born into an era when our species has begun to truly recognize the wonder that is the universe, when we are beginning to fully comprehend our place in it. You just as easily could have been born a serf in the Middle Ages, with no knowledge of the world beyond your feudal plot of land and the name of your master.

Of all the hundreds of countries in the world, you were born in a nation that grants you virtual freedom to decide what you will do with your time here, and the material means to pursue your highest dreams.

You are not forced to labor in the fields for a king or a master. You are not forced to fend for your very survival, wondering where your next meal will come from.

You were most likely born into a family that provided you both with the physical and the emotional support necessary to see you transformed into an individual who could look beyond his or her material needs towards your own self-actualization.

You have taken that support to heart by engaging your mind in the pursuit of truth and knowledge at Eckerd College . By deepening your understanding of the world and furthering your awareness of your own strengths, needs, and desires, you have prepared yourself to the fullest for the road ahead.

In a nutshell, you are free.Free to do anything in the world.  All that can stop you is your own fear of failure.

Having a college degree puts you among the 1% most educated people on the planet. Compared with the billions of people living in abject poverty, or those suffering under tyrannical regimes, you are completely in control of your destiny.

So, having unparalleled freedom, what will you do? This is a very exciting, unique time in your life. The world is truly yours for the taking.

Go forward into this world.  Show it what you will do with the freedom that has been given to you.  Live.  Don't just pass through life.  Live it, and live it well.

Henry David Thoreau once said: "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."

Dream big. Shoot for the stars. Build your foundations later. Now is your time to dream.

Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South . St. Petersburg, Florida 33711
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