Renee Jensen '13
William Smith Senior Speech
May 19, 2013
I am honored to be here today as this year’s William Smith senior speaker.
Originally when asked for senior speakers at Commencement I wasn’t sure if it was something I could do. I thought of all of the reasons I shouldn’t do it but that list was outweighed by one thing, the reason why I should...the thing outweighing all of my thoughts of not being the most qualified in our class, the most well-known, or even the most involved was how I felt when it really began to hit me that we were graduating, and how proud I am to be a William Smith woman graduating with this class after the fastest four years of my life.
Today, I am not going to stand before you and discuss the future and what we will do or be. As one of you I stand here as excited, confused, nervous, frantic, exhilarated, and exhausted as I believe a few of you may also be. Today, the breeze here feels a little bit different. Doesn’t it? There is a heavy finality that comes with these last moments here.
Today, we are finally certified smart. Who knew this day would come?
The reason I refuse to stand here and give any major advice or insights is simple. I have no idea what the future holds. I have not been out in the work force; I’m no more or less accomplished than any of you. But today we emerge together, as sleep deprived as ever, but as the most engaged, most passionate, and smartest we have ever been.
The ways in which we have all prepared for this moment have been different but I personally know that the majority of this year we have been predominantly preoccupied with what is coming next. What are your plans? Where will you be? Who will you be?
We have spent time trying to figure out the next chapter, ignoring the fact that this one is closing. Be it through wishful thing, blind ambition, or just plain spacing out...for a lot of us today has snuck upon us and our time here at Hobart and William Smith is winding down.
From those awkward first days where we wandered around campus with goofy smiles and bright eyes looking for our new friends or new people to meet, we are now here. Look around, we are surrounded by best friends, family, roommates, and our professors.
We have been fortunate in our education. We did not attend some huge university where we were just one of the many. We can look around and celebrate each other’s successes. I can look to the members of my class, and know who you are and what you’ve done. I can look to you and say let’s honor one of us who will be volunteering his and her time as a Teach for America mentor. I can look to you and join in celebration of your graduate school acceptances. I can look to you and celebrate your entrepreneurship. Or your non-profit plans. Or to you and say how lucky that company is to have you among them. We know each other here. To be able to look around and know almost all of your class is of of the things that makes Hobart and William Smith so great. We can use these final moments to reflect on the distinctive education we’ve received and how the opportunities and challenges we have faced have shaped us.
We have had the opportunity to grow in a setting that has allowed us to seek out our own place in the world. Living in a small town with its beautiful backdrop we have begun to seek out our true selves. We are world travelers, teammates, students, and volunteers. We have seen other cultures, left it all on the field, held prominent internships, and in all of those experiences we have become our selves. Today is about us. Those of us who grew and changed; and realizing the changes we’ve made in these four years. It is about celebrating the time we have spent here, on this campus, with the people sitting next to you.
So, look at who you have become, look at your college life. Look at the pieces that make up this experience in its totality. Look to the absurdities, look to the great moments, and remember it all. The mornings after at your favorite breakfast place downtown, the quad days, the never-ending practices, the all nighters, the studio sessions that dragged on, the wine tours, and the time spent with your best friends when you really should have been editing that paper.
Together we have endured, together we have debated, together we have pushed each other. These are the things that have built us. Life seems to be beginning all over again today. But whichever paths we take, we will continue to strive, seek, and find the interesting. However we grow and change in the future, we are forever marked by today as William Smith alumnae and as Hobart alumni. We will continue to hunt our passions and live with conviction letting our curiosity and intuition lead the way.