The Colgate Scene
July 2002

The web of happy ones

[Photo by Hope Kinchen]

Arnoldas Pranckevicius '02 is one of only 70 individuals in the world to receive the prestigious Rotary World Peace Scholarship from Rotary International. An international relations major at Colgate, Pranckevicius (pronounced "pran-kev-itch") plans to use his scholarship to earn a masters degree in international relations at Institut D'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po). Ultimately, he hopes to return to his native Lithuania to help with its efforts to join the European Union. Pranckevicius was the student speaker at the 20th annual Scholarship Recognition Dinner held in April. The following remarks are excerpted from his speech.

Commencement 2002

The culmination of an extraordinary year
The Class of 2002's time at Colgate was "marked by change" that included the turning of one century to another, the transfer of executive power in the nation's capital after an "unprecedented" election and three presidents within four years at Colgate.

The courage to be
John M. Buchanan, pastor of Chicago's historic Fourth Presbyterian Church and editor and publisher of The Christian Century, delivered the sermon at the baccalaureate service prior to this year's commencement.

Honoris causa
Honored at commencement with honorary doctorates were Mary Frances Berry, John M. Buchanan, E. Virgil Conway '51, Muhammad Yunus, as well as commencement speaker Charlie Rose, who cited his fellow recipients as examples to behold.

Life is a strange animal. Who could have dared to think 22 years ago, when I was born in the Soviet Union, that on April 18, 2002, I [would] be standing in Hamilton, New York, U.S.A. and speaking freely, and in English, to an American audience? Could my parents have dared to think that their son is going to graduate in international relations, a subject that was reserved to study in Moscow exclusively for the children of the Communist Party leadership?

They couldn't, and neither could I. However, international politics inevitably entered my life at an early age. As I was growing up, I observed the public resentment towards the Communist system of tyranny. I learnt of my father's misfortunate 10 childhood years spent in Siberia, where in exile he lost his mother and two of his sisters. This was the first Political Science 101 lesson that I learnt from my father.

I am most grateful to my fate that it allowed me to live in the post-U.S.S.R. era, where, contrary to my parents' lives, I have no limitation in the freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom of movement . . .

I am here today to thank you . . . for providing me and many other students here tonight with the key to the greatest opportunity of our lives, and that is Colgate. I am very thrilled to finally be able to express my tremendous gratitude to Colgate University for admitting me with the full scholarship and for allowing me to experience the most academically challenging and professionally rewarding experiences of my life so far.

I can feel so much happiness in this hall tonight -- even the former presidents of the college are smiling from the walls. And I think the great Russian writer [Leo] Tolstoy would agree with me here. In his diary he wrote, "The most powerful means for achieving true happiness is to spread out from oneself, in every direction, like a spider, a whole spider's web of love, and catch in it everything that comes along."

Here tonight I see an impressive spider's web of giving, of receiving, of sharing, of maturing, of growing, the web of true happiness! And I am convinced that most of the seniors here, including me, [who] have been caught in this web of generosity of our great donors, will spread out from ourselves in every direction, and eventually return here to our alma mater with precious gifts to be shared with future Colgate students, who will look [remarkably] like what we are today, what you were yesterday.

We all are a part of the same -- Colgate's web of the happy ones.

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