August 23, 2013

JablonGood evening. On behalf of the student body, it is truly an honor to welcome you, the Class of 2017, to Bucknell. We are so excited that you are finally here!

It seems a bit strange to be speaking up here tonight. Just two years ago, I was sitting in your seats. I remember that night quite vividly. Sitting in this chapel was the first time the transition to college felt real.

Thinking back to that night, I never would have imagined the story I tell today. At Bucknell, I have aced challenging courses, won a student government election, and scored an internship at an investment bank, among many other accomplishments. None of this would be possible, however, without the help of the incredible people who have crossed my path at this institution and who will be there to support you in your journeys, as well.

Tonight, Class of 2017, you will each start crafting your own stories. As you begin writing the next chapter of your lives, I thought I would take a few minutes to share some advice. Don’t worry; I won’t ask you to take detailed notes just yet. I am sure your professors will ask that of you on Wednesday. Here are the three most important things I wish I had known when I began my freshman year:

  1. Take a risk. By risk, I do not mean trying to do your laundry on a Sunday afternoon or expecting to get a treadmill in the gym at 4 p.m.; believe me, you will not find a machine in either scenario. I think Oprah said it best in her recent commencement speech at Harvard. “Build a résumé that doesn’t simply tell a story about what you want to be, but who you want to be.” Do something out of the ordinary at Bucknell. Sign up for the class you might not get an “A” in. Join a club you did not participate in during high school. Try out for the sports team you might not make. Maybe run for student government. Whatever you choose to do, do something; it’s the Bucknellian way after all.
  2. Ask questions. Raise your hand in the middle of a lecture. Ask your professor to explain the math problem you are stuck on in class. Ask yourself if that all-nighter spent in Seventh Street Café or the library was really worth it. People here really want to help you and see you succeed. Take it from me; if it weren’t for the many, many, many questions my administration and I asked President Bravman and Dining Services about frozen yogurt, BSG would not be proudly announcing the opening of a froyo lounge in the Bison this fall. Take a moment every now and then to reflect on where you are in your journey. If you’re not happy, make sure to ask why not.
  3. Take pride. Take pride in your work and the good grades will follow. Take pride in your accomplishments outside of the classroom. Discover the things that make you tick and follow the path that allows you to do what you love—not just what you are good at. Take pride in your beliefs and stand up for a cause you believe in. Most of all, take pride in being a Bucknellian and the amazing network you are about to become a part of at the conclusion of this ceremony. If you look at each new day over the next four years as a blank page and make an effort to succeed, you will be amazed at what our community will help you accomplish.

With this advice, Class of 2017, I wish you the best of luck and congratulate you on making an amazing decision in choosing Bucknell. To quote Natasha Bedingfield, “Today is where your book begins … the rest is still unwritten.” With that, I challenge you to grab a pen and start writing.