Classes of 2002, this is it. We are graduating and about to set forth on a journey—a journey into "the working world." We have reached the grand crossroad of our undergraduate career, the last hurrah of our youth. We must now face the world that lies ahead of us. A world with many challenges-a world where the headlines of the New York Times read: "Not wanted: '02 graduates seeking jobs, a world with 20-25 percent fewer jobs for graduates this year and a world where more schooling is almost a necessity. So what are we to make of this welcome to the working world? I am sure that each of us will take a different path into the future, but for today we are all facing the same reality, the end of our Hobart and William Smith College experience. And while I can't claim to know the experience of each and every one of my classmates, I think I can make one statement with certainty:
This new world doesn't just begin when we receive our pieces of paper stating that we have completed our major, minor and the eight goals. This new world begins when we understand the meaning of happiness and begin to strive to achieve the ideals that are important to us individually.
Hobart and William Smith has taught me a great deal about being an individual and finding happiness for myself. As a local student, a small-town country girl who grew up raising goats, I was skeptical about coming to HWS and above all about being able to find my place. I knew that HWS was a place where I could expand my leadership skills and make my college experience be what I wanted it to be. But, at first I was unsure if it was the "right" place for me. After lots of thinking, I took the challenge and before I knew it I was a William Smith student. However, at first I thought I had to be a "smithy" but I soon realized that there were a lot of other students just like myself here. I found my place as a student leader and I realized that no matter who you were, above all you were an HWS student and that is all that mattered. I learned that the most important thing to do is to be yourself. Do not sell yourself short. Do not let yourself be engulfed by image, do not let the media convince you, do not do it just because everyone else is—do what you believe is right and do what will make you happy. And for the future, if you want to join the Peace Corp, do it. If you want to take a year of before going to graduate school, do it. If you want to travel the world, do it. The future is yours and only you can decide what path you will take now that you have reached the grand crossroad of your undergraduate career.
You must remember that your only responsibility in life is to be happy. It may sound simple, but it may be the greatest challenge you will face in your lifetime. If you can be happy without hurting others, that's wonderful. If you can be happy while making others happy, you have reached the highest state a human can achieve. As the old Chinese proverb states:
If you want happiness for an hour, then take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, then go fishing.
If you want happiness for a month, then get married.
If you want happiness for a year, then inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, then help someone else.
That's all! Live life to its fullest and live your passions. Take what you have learned here at Hobart and William Smith and run with it. Be a doer not a critic. Take the next step and make the decision to explore the realm of your dreams and find happiness for yourself!
Classes of 2002---we have made it!
Happiness--Can you Achieve it?
Darya Welker ?02, William Smith Senior Speaker
May 12, 2002