Convocation 2003 - Colorado College

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Remarks of Matthew Synenberg
Opening Convocation
The Colorado College
September 1, 2003

Students, faculty, staff, and the class of 2007—good morning and welcome to Colorado College. It is a privilege to look into the very eyes of the future…the possibilities and responsibility that lay ahead for all of us.

Let me begin my remarks by focusing on the incoming class:

I can’t even to begin to explain how impressive you are to us. Nonetheless, I would like to offer these statistics:

Your class of 528 freshmen was chosen from a pool of over 3,500 applicants.

You come representing 43 states and 11 foreign countries.
More hopeful yet is the fact that 240 students made a significant impact in community service while in high school, a trend we hope to build upon here.

However, in addition to all your previous leadership, academic, and service commitments, you are also the very first class to boast a barrel jumper, a trapeze artist, and a llama rancher, not to mention an oyster farmer.

But unfortunately you, the class of 2007, did not come to college alone. You brought with you the timeless misconception, that college is an experience. Indeed there was that uncle or an older sister who may have told you that college is the “best four years of your life.” And take my word for it; you’re gonna to have a great time. But I challenge the notion that college is merely a stepping-stone. Furthermore, I challenge you to make it more than an experience.

College should be the place where you lay the foundation for a bridge of continuity that spans your entire life and gives it meaning. You might say, “How do I begin building that bridge?” I believe that the bridge to meaning is paved with passion. College in general, and Colorado College in particular, provides an environment conducive for finding exactly what it is that you are passionate about.

Simply stated, the passions you are drawn to in college should not be relegated to memories four years from now. Follow your heart and bridge your life with the activities and for that matter the people that make you happy and give your life meaning.

To give you some sort of guidelines, a push in the right direction if you will, I’ve compiled a list for you of just three things that will make finding your passion at Colorado College a little bit easier.

1) Get involved—you don’t know what or who is out there until you try new things.
2) Do not double major—there is no need to limit the number of classes you can take outside your major.
3) Study abroad—until someone comes back from Italy claiming the food was rotten and the people were miserable, there’s no excuse not to explore another culture.

So take these three pieces of advice, advice I didn’t always follow, and combine that with a journey of introspection. The challenge is by no means an easy task. Lucky for you, you will not be making the trek alone. At your side will be the same people who flank you today. Take a good look around and you will find not only the eager faces of your classmates, but also those of your professors and the administrators who put this institution and your education into motion. My hope is that by the time you get to where I am now, you will have paved the bridge and set the stage for an even brighter future. Indeed, you will know you have succeeded when at the end of every year you can honestly say, ‘this year has been the best year of my life and next year will be even better.’

To the returning students:

You’re the old hands around here now. In addition to bringing a new level of continuity into your life, I have a special task for you:

I ask of you to continue the proud tradition you are apart of in ushering in the new class with open arms. One of my favorite aspects of Colorado College is its non-competitive nature. As a freshman, I can fondly remember being taken under the wing of the same sophomore who happened to be my student-host the year before. He became my mentor as I navigated my way through choosing courses, exploring Greek life, and fostering relationships with upperclassmen. Needless to say, had it not been for his guidance, I would not enjoy the position I have today. So please, reach out to the new students. Perhaps under the auspices of visiting your old room you can introduce yourself to its new inhabitants and offer your assistance. I know the gesture would be more than appreciated and the person or people may even take you up on it. I think you’ll find that getting to know a new student can be as fun for you as it is rewarding for him or her.

To the faculty and administration:

What can I say? Keep up the good work. You’re the reason I chose this school, you’re the reason I love this school. The level of instruction and commitment to teaching at Colorado College is second to none. If I can humbly make just one suggestion, it is this:

Try to treat every student as if they are the next Fulbright, or Watson, or Rhodes Scholar to come through our school. Afford every student the guidance and support they need to reach their potential and find their passion. And above all, realize that we will make mistakes and sometimes disappoint you. Don’t give up us, because we never will give up on you.

I would like to close with a wish for the coming year. Insomuch as it is every person’s goal to live an exemplary life, why not start that journey here? It is a privilege to be here, not a right. Let’s make the best of our opportunity and begin building that bridge of continuity for a life of meaning that starts right now. I wish you all the best of luck in uncovering your passion and succeeding at Colorado College. Thank you and have a great day