Commencement 2010

David Butterini '10
May 16, 2010

Welcome President Gearan, Provost Amott, Members of the Board of Trustees, Faculty, Honored Guests, Family (mom, dad), and Classes of 2010

To all, I can not believe we are actually here today, let alone that I am giving this speech. I remember standing right over there, right next to Medbery Hall back on a dreary, late August day in 2006. I like all of you, was waiting in line to shake President Gearan’s hand before the first official day of orientation. And now 8 semesters, countless sleepless nights, too many late night coffee runs to count and who knows how many nonworking printers later, I am and we are basically right back in the same spot. How is that for ironic?

But think of this. Four years ago, perhaps longer, you were just like me. You walked across this very stage, shook Mr. Gearan’s hand, headed down into the quad below, signed your name onto the matriculation book, received your dorm keys and officially walked off into your new life called college, well maybe with the aid of a campus map.

Personally, I walked into studying architecture, a field that I am pursuing further next year in graduate school. I walked into studying abroad in Rome last spring. I walked into professor’s offices seeking help. Too often I walked for 15 minutes to get to Houghton House. I walked up to Betty countless times in Saga, and yes, I did walk into a few parties. Looking back it seems like I was walking everywhere, but I wasn’t, I did occasionally drive. Some places are just too far.

That being said, I will never forget the most fateful walk of my college experience. It was a rainy, cold Saturday. By now we were a few weeks into school. I was walking over to Saga, alone, hoping to get some dinner. I remember going up to Dick, and for those who aren’t in the know, Dick is essentially the gate keeper of the cafeteria, similar to St. Peter. I was about to hand Dick my student ID card, and in his classically gentle tone Dick said, “we’re closed.” What was I going to do? So I began the walk back to Bartlett Hall, hungry, dejected, and sorry for this kid who was heading into Saga, soon to face the same crushing dejection Dick dealt me. He was alone. I wondered, should I put myself out there and tell him, “dude, Saga’s closed.” As we were about to cross paths, I almost didn’t tell him, but as the way fate works sometimes, I did. He said, “really?” “Yeah, it’s too bad,” was my reply. For a moment I could tell we were both at a loss. We began to walk back to our rooms together, and in a leap of faith for him, he asked me, “So what are you doing for dinner.” “I don’t know,” I said. “Well, do you want to go somewhere?” “Sure!” So we drove, no not walked, to the only place where 2 classy gentlemen like us go, The Waffle House. We ate mediocre waffles, shared laughs and from that moment on we were friends, and for me college was never going to be the same.

For me, that moment was a turning point, and I’m sure all of you have had your own turning points while at HWS. Moments where your life’s path took a direction that none of you saw coming. Such is life. (PAUSE)

Again, I can’t seem to get beyond how reminiscent today is compared to that late August day nearly 4 years ago. Shortly we students will be nervously waiting in line, anticipating ourselves crossing this stage to shake the President’s hand; quickly to return to the quad below.

But, when you look at, there is no comparison. Today, we will be walking off this stage with a diploma in our hand, with a world-class education under our belt and hopefully many new friends to rely on.

If only I knew back on that dreary August day four years ago exactly how awesome college would be. I certainly would not have been so nervous to embrace it. Ultimately, that’s what I want us to take away from this day. There is a beauty that lies within the unknown, and that is the force that exists within all of us to question who we are and then to decide who we will become.

I know it’s pretty heavy stuff. So let me simplify it. Take a cue from Zach and I. Embrace the challenges the gate keepers of the world throw at you. Embrace moments like those. Walk off, drive your car, take the trolley, it doesn’t matter! Just head off into your life with the knowledge that around any corner or at any moment, there might be an waiting Waffle House with your name on it.

With that being said, I would like to end by saying thank you to all my professors, friends and most especially to my family. Thank you all and congratulations to the classes of 2010!