Welcome to Saint Anselm College! Today you have experienced a taste of true Anselmian hospitality. There may still be some bags to be unpacked and a poster or two to hang on the walls. But savor this moment, for you are now a proud member of the Class of 2020.
Many members of our Saint Anselm College family took part in making today a success – from the Orientation Leaders and Resident Assistants, to Student Affairs, Physical Plant, Dining Services and the athletic teams who assisted with the move-in process. Please join me in thanking everyone who helped make your first day on campus a great one.
Every day, we are reminded that the world needs more Anselmians. When we turn on the television or look at our smartphones, too often there are news alerts notifying us of turmoil and unrest. Despite the grave challenges facing our nation and our global society, I have great faith and hope for the future, because there are thousands of Saint Anselm graduates working every day to make the world a better place. Soon, you will be counted among their ranks.
Among you are future scientists and police officers, doctors and politicians, business men and women, teachers, scholars and at least a handful who will go on to succeed in careers that have yet to be imagined. For more than 125 years, Saint Anselm College has educated young men and women to lead lives of meaning with creative minds and generous spirits. Now, it is your turn.
You have arrived here as a member of one of the most diverse and academically talented classes that we have ever enrolled at the college. It is my sincere expectation that you will find your time at Saint Anselm to be inclusive, and full of opportunity. Please know that everyone on this platform, and every member of the faculty, staff and monastic community is here to help you succeed.
It is our desire that over the next four years – and yes that is the goal – just four years – you will challenge yourself both in and out of the classroom to grow personally and make our community stronger. So get involved. Join a club. Take risks. And ask for help when and if you need it.
I hope you also take advantage of the countless opportunities on this campus to volunteer and serve others in the best Anselmian tradition. Take a class with a service learning component, get involved at the Meelia Center for Community Engagement and participate in a winter or spring break alternative trip. Be giving of your time and resources.
And don’t be surprised if you become inspired by your peers. Particularly when it comes to acts of selfless giving. As we speak, nearly 50 upperclassmen are walking 130 miles to campus, from Lewiston, Maine to begin the academic year. For the eighteenth year, “Road for Hope” is raising funds and awareness for charities along their route, walking with the belief that “every footstep makes a difference.”
I encourage you to greet these walkers at the main entrance to campus on Saturday afternoon when they complete their eight-day journey. And this note to mom and dad: don’t be surprised when your son or daughter calls on Sunday and says they want to do the walk next year! Many moments like that will happen over the next four years. Embrace them.
In a few short days, we will gather for a banquet in Davison Hall. At that time, the class pennant will be raised to the rafters, and the Class of 2020 will take its place in our storied college history. And so begins your collective and individual journey towards earning a Saint Anselm College degree.
This is not an easy task; in fact the academic rigor is meant to be a challenge. It requires hard work, time management, work-life balance and perseverance. We will work with you to keep you on track, but ultimately it is YOUR responsibility. And parents, we need your help to insure a successful four-year journey. Since we are not allowed to share personal information unless students sign a release, you too must ask the necessary questions. Do you have enough credits to graduate on time? Have you taken the required courses? Will you be walking down this center aisle in four years to receive your diploma? Students, we all want you to succeed. If you hit a stumbling block, and most of you will, we are here to help you. DO NOT WAIT until it is too late.
Finally, there are three things I would ask you to keep in mind as you begin your academic studies at Saint Anselm College.
The first is Friends. It is critically important that you make at least three close friends this semester. These are friends you can lean on when the going gets tough and celebrate with during the best of times. Friends you can spend time with eating, meeting and greeting. Friends with whom you may play a sport, do community service projects, participate in theater or politics. Friends that will last a lifetime.
The second is Family. Please remember to call home. Or at least send a text message. This newfound freedom is a luxury. Do not forget that your family is always there for you. Time passes quickly, especially in college. Thank your family for all they have done to help you along the path that has led you here today. In a few moments it will be time to say goodbye to one another. It marks a moment when you must say three simple words to your parents and loved ones. Three words that we sometimes take for granted. Three words that express your deepest gratitude. They are NOT “Please Send Money.” The three words are I Love You.
Finally, there is Faith. Your faith will be strengthened at Saint Anselm College because our community is rooted in our Benedictine tradition. No matter what your religious denomination may be, find a way to strengthen your own spirituality. Make time to attend liturgies. Participate in retreats or community service. Take time for personal reflection. Treasure the beauty of this campus. Your future will be shaped in large part by the development of your faith- not only in a higher power, but in yourself and in others.
I look forward to getting to know each of you over the course of the journey that this class is beginning together today; in just four short years we will gather again in this very place to celebrate your commencement. Today I congratulate you on your arrival. Starting right now, you now have about 48 months to figure out what comes next!
Class of 2020: Welcome and Congratulations. Be active participants in your collegiate experience. And remember there are three simple things to treasure: Friends, Family and Faith. Parents and family members, we hope to see you at Family Weekend in October. I wish you all Godspeed as you return to a quieter home.
May God Bless the Class of 2020. And may His blessings be upon us all as we embark on these next four years together.