Eckerd College Commencement
Speeches and Remarks

Greetings from the Graduating Class
Charles Henry Gilbert '10, Residential Graduate

Charles Henry GilbertGood Morning, bienvenido and welcome!

I would like to start by saying I hope that this is one 8:00 AM class all of us are attending. Seniors, please look to your left, look to your right, and now call or text any graduating senior that should be near you, but you do not see. A degree is not something that your roommate should bring back to you like homework, and no, you can't print one off of the online resource Moodle or stop by the security hut on the way out.

But in all seriousness, seniors, family, friends and faculty, I want to welcome you on behalf of the senior class to this year's graduation ceremony. I would like to thank everyone who made this event possible, including the administration, the professors and all those in charge of organizing it. I also want to recognize Dean Chapin for being a tremendous source of guidance and knowledge for the Eckerd community over the last 31 years. We will miss you greatly, but we wish you all the best in your post Eckerd world. I'm also confident that his successor, Dean Betty Stuart, will add greatly to the legacy of this distinguished position This change in administration made me realize two important points about Eckerd and what makes us a unique school: one being that both news and rumors travel fast around campus, which can be both an asset, if you do something praiseworthy, or a detriment if you stole a golf cart last week. More importantly students are very involved in the happenings here. The fact that students are invited to planning committees, Pizza with the President, casual on campus social events with their professors and even retirement parties is something that makes Eckerd special. Furthermore our college has a very sharing sentiment at these social events. To facilitate conversation and a sense of community, there is almost always an excess supply of food. In fact, free food is one of many aspects that we will all miss as we leave Eckerd.

And just as a family would gather around food together, I feel that I am part of a family here even when at times we can be dysfunctional or agree to disagree. We are a small community but I want to emphasize the power of the community. By now I'm confident that you have made friends among your fellow students, but I hope you have also become friends with all of our staff here, from the secretaries to the maintenance men, grounds people, housekeepers, cafeteria staff and security guards. In addition, we could not have completed this journey without our mentors and professors who also became our friends. These people and many others are why Eckerd will always have a special place in my heart.

These close friendships are what make Eckerd special, but are also a large part of how we can improve the state of our country and the world. As we enter the real world, let us not forget what worked here at camp Eckerd. Continue building relationships with new and interesting people you meet wherever that may be. This action alone could make a world of difference in tearing down socially constructed divisions that limit us on both the individual and social level. The concept of a community is simple. As we come together and get to know one another better, we will naturally grow into a unified force to combat what is unjust, unfair and unacceptable. Let us demand what is logical and just. While not all of us will become politicians or be in positions of power, I challenge you all as individuals to make a positive impact on your community, and if possible in many communities in your daily actions. On this topic, I would like to conclude with what I believe is an appropriate quote from Monseñor Oscar Romero, who fought for and even sacrificed his own life in the name of justice and community building in El Salvador. While observing a country torn by inequality, competing ideologies and civil war, he offered the following prayer to his congregation, and I am hopeful that his words will resonate with you as well:

"We cannot do everything
And there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something
And to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning.
A step along the way,
An opportunity for God's grace
to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
But that is the difference
Between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
Ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own."

Thank you, gracias and congratulations to the class of 2010.

Eckerd College
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