You came here for the most part almost four years ago from all over the United States and the world, including Belarus, Myanmar, and Vietnam. Catherine, variously spelled, and David, are your most common first names. Forty-two of you were born in June, and four of you, Eleanor, Daniel, Sean and Brian, were born today. Happy birthday!
You worked hard here, sometimes, and achieved some of your hopes and dreams. More of you, 37, majored in Economics than any other major. One of you has an Independent Major in Japanese. Seventy-two of you took 125 courses with Vickie Bentley-Condit and 74 of you took 138 courses with Andy Mobley. Ann Ellis had more of you as advisees than anyone else. Two hundred fifty-six students took at least one history course, the most enrolled department amongst you. Sixty-one of you took a conditioning class. Two hundred twelve of you took an introductory philosophy course. Together you have filed 4,245 drop/add forms since the fall of 2002.
You also saw tragedy and encountered disappointments and set backs. One of you, at least, had a serious time of difficulty and emerged wiser with the same wonderful spirit of joy.
You grew and changed. You made new friends and saw new worlds. One hundred sixty-seven of you studied abroad, and 116 of you participated in at least one varsity sport.
You saw the College change around you with the building and opening of the East Campus residence halls, New Darby, Rosenfield Center and now Phase II of the Noyce Science Center.
You were patient, most of the time, with us and generous to those in need after Katrina and in other places of need in the world.
You look ahead sometimes with fear and concern but mostly with confidence and hope. We are confident in you and in your dreams. We share them and will be with you as you strive to reach them. Don't give them up but recognize that they will change and alter.
Grinnell is a small place in a large world but wisdom, and happiness and even transcendence can shine from small places into the darkness of a vexed world. Remember always not only who you are but what you can be; not how bleak things are but how splendid they should be; and not the sadness of things missed or lost or gone by but the hope and glory of what you and all of us together can achieve.
Good luck and God bless you.