Convocation 2007
Convocation 2007

Student Response
Return to Program and Remarks

Grace A. GairGrace A. Gair
President, Eckerd College Organization of Students
September 5, 2007

Good afternoon Eckerd family and friends.

I know that school just started Monday, but I wanted to give a little quiz. It's no big deal, you don't need a pencil or paper or blue book or a scantron sheet. It's just a short quiz so answer the questions the best you can. All right here it goes:

  1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
  2. Name the last three Heisman Trophy winners.
  3. Name the last five people who have won the Academy Award for best Actor or Actress.

How are you doing? You're not done; I have three more questions:

  1. Name two of your favorite teachers or professors.
  2. Name three friends who you can always depend on.
  3. Name one person who always makes you smile.

I'm guessing the second set of questions was much easier to answer than the first one. The point of trying to rack your brain for knowledge of Hollywood's finest or the most successful of MTV's Cribs contestants or the greatest NFL stars is not to test your knowledge of pop culture or sports, but to illustrate that fame, fortune and MTV specials do not produce the people who impact us most. Even if I asked you to name ten Nobel Prize winners, a crowning achievement for global society, most of us in this room would have a hard time naming five of them. The people who make a difference in our lives aren't the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. Instead, they are the ones who change the way we think about ourselves, our relationships, and our futures.

As a senior, I have come to love the phrase, "Only at Eckerd." And I have come to love it because there have been so many instances where I have thought only a moment, only an opportunity, only a relationship like this could develop at a place where students, faculty and staff learn and grow, work and play, hope, dream and achieve together.

No one knows what ideas and interactions end up impacting the world. Sometimes an idea takes off and becomes an epidemic. Other times ideas sit idle for 1000 years only to be rediscovered at the perfect moment. As I searched for the words to bring to you today, I rediscovered a quotation that took me back three years to my Western Heritage class. What did not make much sense to me then seems now like a great toast to the unique spirit of Eckerd. In Jack Kerouac's novel, On the Road, he writes,

Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Although one could interpret this passage many ways, I see it as a perfect metaphor for the kind of student, faculty and staff that reach out to one another and to the world. We may not know the challenges we face on our roads to greatness but the people and influences that allow us to overcome those challenges never leave us. As I conclude today, I hope that each of you remembers that not only are you surrounded by a community of people to help you in a journey but also that you journey together as a community. Welcome home to another year "only at Eckerd."

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