The Colgate Scene
September 2006

A message from President Rebecca S. Chopp
How we grew up

Klein highlighted several meaningful connections with classmates during his Senior Day Luncheon speech, including #14 on the women's basketball team, Meghan Curtin -- whom he cheered for eight years, first as a high school classmate, and then as a Raider. [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]

Alumni often ask me how students describe their experiences at Colgate. At the Senior Class Luncheon (sponsored by the Alumni Association to welcome graduates into our alumni body), senior class orator Doug Klein '06 did a great job expressing how many of our current students describe their years. Doug used his time in front of his classmates, the trustees, and staff members to reflect on the phrase "the best four years of your life," which he saw frequently on the AOL away message of his good friend, Amy Wolper '06. Excerpts of Doug's address appear here.
— Rebecca Chopp

Doug Klein '06, senior class orator
Hometown: Tenafly, N.J.
Major: history; minor: philosophy; graduated with honors in history
Beta Theta Pi, Gamma Sigma Alpha (national Greek academic honor society)
Next step: financial analyst, Unilever

. . . Colgate, our first time on our own. Your experiences might have been very different from mine. And I am not trying to draw any comparisons. Except one.

How each of us grew up during the past four years.

Call it cheesy or idealistic, a chance to grow up on our own is what stands at the core of the statement "best four years of your life." It makes me think of that quote . . . by Sebastian the crab in The Little Mermaid. Sebastian so intelligently told King Triton, who was having separation issues with his daughter, that "Children have got to be free to live their own lives."

Whether you know where you are working or going to school next year, or whether you have no idea, ask yourself this: did I grow up here? If so, how? If not . . . then you are wrong.

Because everyone sitting under this tent did some kind of growing on this campus. Some, no doubt, more than others. But each in his or her own way. Beyond the classroom and the dorm room and the emergency room, something changed about you here.

When, during the course of the rest of your life, will you have an opportunity to sit in a room -- not a classroom, but a room -- and engage in debate or discussion with a well-studied professor of any given discipline

. . . be it physics or philosophy or Latin American studies? When, ever again, will you have the freedom and opportunity to engage your mind in such a diverse way?

In these rooms, in these discussions, our minds began to work. Not just to "get by" or "get the A," but in the sense of questioning. Of looking at the topic at hand and seeing how it fit into the greater scheme of things . . . namely . . . life.

Our extracurricular activities found a sense of freedom in ways they were not permitted to be free prior to our arrival here in freezing-cold Hamilton, N.Y. What did you do in your free time? Did you go to the library? Did you have dinner with a professor at his or her house? Did you play a sport? Did you perform theater or sing? Did you do community service? Did you drink a lot of beer? Did you pursue that cute girl in Introduction to Anthropology freshman year who you later found out had a boyfriend from home (and then did you try to convince her he was not worth it?) And fail? Did you fall in love? I could go on. But ultimately: did you learn to think on your own? I mean listening to what others have to say and, while listening to them, observing the world around you . . . be it the world of Kabul, Afghanistan, or the world of Hamilton, N.Y.

Beyond my classes up the hill, I have learned a lot in this beautiful town. Sophomore year, after we beat Western Illinois in football, I learned that ripping down goalposts to throw into Taylor Lake is much easier in sub-freezing temperatures (they really just snap). I learned that no matter how nicely you ask, slices come plain only. I learned that with consistent attention, cars will actually start when the temperature is minus 24 degrees outside. I've learned that as great a song as it is, when "New York, New York" comes on at the Jug it means that my night out is almost over. I've learned that the world's biggest known living pig is just over 1600 pounds. His name is Norm and he lives in Hubbardsville, less than 10 minutes from here. I learned, quite early in my Colgate career, that the intersection in the middle of downtown Hamilton was definitely not designed by a Colgate graduate.

And in learning these things, and now leaving them, I know what I am going to miss. Lou Ann and Everett at Slices. Judy at the Barge. The Daddy-O's truck (although that's been something I've missed for more than two years now, so I've begun to manage the loss). The Main Moon all-you-can-eat buffet, Friday-Sunday nights, 5:30-8:30, $7.76 without a drink, $9.01 with a drink. I'll never forget Professor Balmuth. Professor McCabe. Professor Hodges. Jean at Frank Dining Hall -- best smile of anyone on campus. I'm going to miss singing "Warm Up the Bus" and jingling my keys as the last few seconds tick off a Colgate hockey victory. And for some weird, unexplainable reason, I'm going to miss minus 24 degrees.

. . . That is growing up. That is realizing that this life is real, and we are about to be adults in it. Adults with responsibility.

After all, that is what we have -- the responsibility to be leaders. Whether that leadership falls in the realm of politics, teaching, investment-banking, the armed forces, law, medicine, the arts, or parenthood. That is what we, as Colgate graduates, have a responsibility to be. Leaders.

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