May 2, 2020: In Fall 2016, I was asked by the Administration to welcome Albion College’s incoming class. I was honored and humbled by the offer and did my best to tell those bright-eye first-year students that their next four years would be life-changing. After all, in my four years (well, five) of undergrad, we got email and the Internet (whatever those were!). I told them that they will often think back on their own undergrad years as some of the best of their lives, a time when they would become the people they are meant to be. I told them they should savor their days at Albion, dear Albion.
And then four years passed. Quickly. And graduation in 2020 was nothing like we imagined.
To close the loop, as is tradition, I gave the “faculty farewell” speech at the virtual commencement ceremony. I reached out to the seniors and asked them to give me one word and one phrase that sums up their time at Albion College. I asked them to not dwell on the past seven weeks, during which campus was evacuated and classes were moved on-line, but to think about their first impressions and meaningful experiences from the past four years. Over 1/3 of them responded. And I was impressed.
“Albion believed in me” and Albion College is “where you can be yourself”.
They were “inspired and mentored by faculty to dream big and accomplish goals”.
Their time at Albion was “definitely an adventure!”, “life-changing”, and “the best four years of [their] life”. In fact, it was “…a whirlwind …, but [they] wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Many of the graduates fell in love with the town of Albion, and Albion College became their “home away from home”.
Though there were “long nights” and “hard work”, they said they made memories and connections to last a lifetime. As they should.
I told them they’d remember this day, these last seven weeks, these past four years forever. As I do with my undergrad years, they’ll think of these days often, with words like
My advice to them was simple: Go out into the world and do great things. And remember that Albion College will always be waiting for you to come home. Most importantly, make every day a “great day to be a Brit!”