As we gather at the official closing of our Williston careers, looking at you for all one last time I am reminded that while we may be de jure leaving Williston, de facto what we’ve created here, the memories and the friendships will stay with us forever. As my final words to you I’d like to thank you for all you have done for me, each and every one of you. In the words of an African Proverb, “I am because you are.” You have been my world for the last six years and I won’t ever forget, so here are my last wishes:
I wish for you the ability to embrace the uncertain. Live not just through it, but in it. Williston has taught me that uncomfortable moment usually matter the most.
I wish for you continuous chances to expand your comfort zone, until you find yourself doing things you cannot imagine as you sit here today.
I wish you the ability to embrace what Williston has made you and the courage to keep changing. So that you are never entirely satisfied with who you are but always happy with who you know you can be.
I wish for you to take all Williston has given you, the friendships, study habits, athletic abilities, and knowledge and use them as you want. In short, I wish for you the ability to decide how you will use the lessons from our time here together.
I wish for you to understand the subtle difference between moving on and leaving. We will move on from Williston tomorrow, we will exit the stage and begin the next phase of our lives. But we won’t leave. Williston will always be a part of us, in the phrases we use—DSL, Tandem run, Swanee, Willy Gras—in the habits we have—8-10 is homework, dinner is at 5:15—and in the people we seek out and the people we are. Out of the many, many things I’ve said in the many speeches you’ve sat through, I have not felt more certain of anything.
And my last wish for you is that you don’t forget your time here. Every once in a while during the chaos that will be our first year of college I hope you flip through a yearbook or text a teacher or classmate. Play a cheesy song and reminisce about the late nights in the Writing Center, the big game, or the opening night. Think about the jokes, your freshman year roommate, and the harder times, draw upon what Williston has given you and always remember that leaving a place and people doesn’t mean you ever stop loving them. I know I won’t.