Tarrin Earle '22

Class of 2022 Commencement address, delivered by Tarrin Earle '22, student speaker, May 22, 2022.

Tarrin Earle '22 Commencement Remarks

Commencement Address

My friends rejected all the jokes I had to start with, so I'll spare you guys with that and we'll just get it going.

Hello and a warm welcome to classmates, family, faculty and staff to our 2022 Commencement.

August 15th, 2018, was warm and sunny — and, to the average person, probably just your typical day. However, for all of us, it was the day we left our homes to move to Bucknell University and meet the people we would make memories with for the next four years of our lives.

At the time, we didn't know what to expect. We didn't know how good the good times would be, how low the low times would, or anything in-between. And I think it's safe to say that nobody in this audience could have predicted how drastically our lives would change from that August 15th day to now.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we were just beginning to figure out this whole "college thing." We were learning that there were actually four meals in a day: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 1 a.m. Flyson tater tots. We found out that sleep was for the weak during midterms and finals; only the strong survived. We all grew familiar with the houses along St. Catherine Street and 7th Street. We figured out that the caf was the social mecca at its prime time, there was no better spot to be than the quad at sunset, and Saturdays were super. Most of all, we were solidifying our ride-or-die people that wouldn't just be there for the next four years, but the next forty.

Then, out of nowhere, the "Bucknell experience" looked a little different. We were sent away to different corners of the country and the world to fight through the battles of virtual learning. Our parents were exclaiming, "Didn't we just get rid of them?!" as we were texting our friends, "I need to get back to school now!"

When we did return, we came back to a different Bucknell than we once knew and had to relearn college all over again.

But Bucknell wasn't the only thing that was changing. Our country was continuing to shift in other ways. The tragic murder of George Floyd sent shockwaves around the nation that further opened people's eyes to the brutalities people of color must face every day. Reports of violence against Asian Americans sparked conversations within friend groups, sports teams, classes and clubs on this campus. We sat together in this political climate of unrest, holding space for our friends of other minority races, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and women as they continued to fight for equity in this world.

And, on top of it all, we were still struggling to figure out just where to park around here.

But we made it through, Class of 2022. Now, look where you are: sitting here receiving one of the most prestigious degrees in the country. To call that achievement remarkable is an understatement, so please give yourself a hand for that.

I recently came across a quote that I feel defines the journey we've now been on. It's from Red Auerbach, one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time, who won 16 NBA Championships in his 29-year career. He stated, "You don't win games as a coach during games. You win games as a coach before games. [But the] Players win during the games, not coaches." Through all the challenges, setbacks and unprecedented events we've faced, our Bucknell administration, faculty and alumni went above and beyond to set us up for success. They devised procedures and protocols to help keep us healthy and safe. They built new state-of-the-art buildings and created events to enhance our experience. They invited us to their office hours when we had no clue what was going on, and so much more.

That's what's so special about this University — that no matter how impossible things seemed, this community never wavered. That tight-knit, small-school feel that attracted most of us here served to make this place truly feel like home in a strange and uncertain world. But that support could only carry us so far and could only prepare us for so much. At the end of the day, each of you had to define your own experience at Bucknell.

You decided how you'd learn, connect and grow. There were no professors there at 1 a.m. when you were trying to make sense of your chemistry lab. There were no alumni to tell you which dorm or house to live in or what clubs you'd enjoy being part of. There were no coaches to give you a play-by-play through that rough break up or an argument with a best friend. When game time came, it was you, your intuition, your effort and your bravery that led you to victory. 

But this is just the start of your winning streak, because your life has only just begun. We are going to leave this place and become future doctors, lawyers, artists, teachers, engineers, CEOs and CMOs — you name it, someone here will become it. Along the way, you may meet obstacles bigger than the mountains you climbed to get here. But you've proved what you can do under pressure. 

Today, you sit here as the gems of Bucknell University. Without the work you've put into yourself, your academics and your community, there would be no record-setting achievements or national rankings for us to celebrate. And Bucknell is so lucky to have you representing it as you continue to succeed in life.

I am so proud to be a member of the Class of 2022. I'd like to thank my mom, dad and three sisters for supporting me on this four-year journey. And I want to thank the friends I gained along the way for becoming an extended family I never knew I could have.

Keep winning your game. And 'ray Bucknell forever. Let's go!