Commencement 2013: Read The Class Presentation By Matthew Wissa ’13

Hello, graduates, family, friends, faculty, administrators and distinguished guests.  Thank you for coming here on this very special occasion.

Graduates, we have an inflated sense of self.  This includes me, confident enough to stand before you here today, but in the reality, we haven’t done much yet.  CMC has provided us with the tools that can take us further than we could’ve possibly imagined on the first nights of Camp Claremont, soaking wet in the emptied fountain, screaming, trashcan in hand and wondering if all four years would be just as enjoyable and carefree.

Today, I want to say that our expectations of what we deserve should not be the catalyst for our drive and ambition.  We can be as great as we like to hope, but only if we have the humility to value knowing and empathizing with others as highly as we value ourselves.

What were all the moments of stress, data, simulations, thought experiments and internships all for?  Yes, they can place us in position to leave a mark, significant change.  But it is our responsibility to seize that opportunity, and to seize it for the right reasons.  Simply applying the knowledge we gained here, no matter how accurate our models, data, or understanding of metaphysics may be, cannot alleviate the burden of needing to be aware of our effect on others.  Before we can lead, there needs to be a re-dedication to understanding our fellow sojourner, what makes him laugh, cry or pause, what are her goals, aspirations and desires.

We are not alone sounds more like something a sleep-deprived and paranoid stargazer would say than a mantra for our future.  But bear with me.  In today’s society, where we’ve become the commodities sold on Facebook, we spend too much time refining and redefining our image, and not enough time understanding the world through each other’s eyes.  We could use such a reminder.  We are not alone.  Leadership is about character and empathy, and success, well, success has to be more than the car we drive or the vacations we take.

Succeed for your community, your family, and your fellow struggler attempting to fulfill these same lofty goals of leading people to a positive end.  We must never temper our ambitions.  We must embrace the daunting effort that it will take to achieve greatness.  But remember, our actions will resonate with ourselves, our loved ones, and our society far longer than the moment in which each decision is made.  Congratulations, class of 2013.  Today is just the beginning.