Hello everyone! Fr. Salmi, Archbishop Rodi, Dr. Sims, members of the Board of Trustees, Faculty, Staff, Parents, Friends, People watching on the internet, and of course, fellow graduates. I am absolutely delighted to be here today, under the Oaks with all of you. We’ve come a very long way since we first arrived on this hilltop, haven’t we? I conferred with Google and some members of our math department, and was told that it has been 1,353 days since we moved in as itty-bitty freshmen, and boy, has a lot happened since then. We came on campus and were thrilled to find a faculty that welcomed us with open arms, sprinklers that were more than willing to help us out with our morning showers and friends who thought just like us. For us, Spring Hill has been our own personal playground, and I, for one, am forever grateful for this.
But life on the Hill hasn’t always been the neon green grass topped with beautiful azaleas. Just as Fr. Lucey warned us 1,353 days ago, we have encountered a few shipwrecks as a class, ranging from returning from Christmas break freshman year to find we would be eating in a state-of-the-art, one-of-a-kind Pooleteria, to having the gazebo torn down just before it was our turn to enter the apartments. But we weathered these storms together and look at us now! We’ve just walked down the Avenue of the Oaks, like scores of students before us, to end our reign as Student Badgers and begin our time as Badger Alumni. But the thing that means the most to me is the fact that we have done all of this in the spirit of togetherness as the Class of 2012. St. Ignatius wrote “Laugh and grow strong”, and we have followed this advice faithfully. We have formed a community as a class, and developed a collective identity of fun-seekers and faith-holders and it is for this that the Hill will remember us. Together we have worked logic proofs with Dr. Ferry and Dr. Dodsworth and Dr. Forstrom. We have taken map quizzes for Dr. Harrison, kept the Hill green with Dr. Bordas, eaten breakfast with Dr. Kaffer, gone on immersion trips and retreats with Billy and Maureen and Colleen. We’ve worshipped with every member of the Jesuit community and we are better and stronger because of all these experiences.
On our first weekend on the Hill, Da Chen came to speak to us. He told us that we were all winners, simply by virtue of being born and said that everyone of us was a super man and a soulja boy. He reminded us that freshman year was only the beginning of our life, in words that are especially significant today, as we walked across this stage to greet Father Salmi and receive our diplomas. Da Chen told us “You are stepping onto the stage of the world. You are stronger than you think. There will be times when reality will creep into your soul. Stay strong…you are here for a very sacred purpose.” Four years later, these words still hold true. Because of our special bond as Badgers, and as members of the class of 2012, we are stronger and smarter than ever. In a few weeks and months, we will go off to find jobs, and become Jesuit Volunteers, graduate students, law students, medical students, teachers, and nurses. Our potential is boundless! Da Chen told us that we were “born to do important things”, and important things we shall do. And no matter what happens once we leave this hill, we will have our fellow Badgers to support us and cheer us on. St. Ignatius bid us to “Go forth and set the world on fire.” Well, I don’t want to alarm anyone, but judging from what I’ve seen in the past four years, the wildfire of the Spring Hill Class of 2012 is about to take over the world. So, world, here we are! Congratulations, Class of 2012! I wish you the best in everything.
“Let us take one day only in hands at a time. Resolve to do good today and better tomorrow.” –Catherine McAuley