Class of 2020,
I am joined by all of my colleagues across W&M and your family and friends when sharing with you how very sorry I am. I am so sorry that your final semester of student life at W&M has been cut short.
And yet just because your final weeks were taken, it doesn’t mean your impact is forgotten.
W&M chose you and you chose her and I bet you remember the moment of decision.
And, the years have passed quickly (in some ways) and slowly (in others) both are true.
You’ve become a better version of yourself as a result of experiences and reflection on those experiences. You know more about what you stand for and who you’ll fight for. Nothing can strip that from you.
And for all the anxiety about the future, you are exactly where you’re supposed to be at this moment in your life. There’s a reason we all are experiencing this moment in time — and in good time we’ll understand why.
Over the past few years you’ve learned about friendship, compassion, asking for help, forgiveness, the healing power of laughter, believing in something greater than yourself, doing the right thing even though it’s the hard thing, humbly acknowledging your misgivings and you’ve been forgiven by your friends. You’ve failed and woke up the next morning to the earth, spinning just as it had the day prior. That’s training for life — for a life well-lived. Nothing can ever take that from you. How you store the memories is the task ahead.
I was once concerned about going into the world and doing something bigger than myself. When I got knocked down it took a long time to get up. A dear friend, someone wiser than me, eventually pulled me up and he helped me re-invent my story. Even though the distance of space and time will make it harder to indulge in spontaneous adventures, your friendships will endure and they can strengthen over the next few months. I know it.
Don’t let this challenge stand in the way of cherishing your time at W&M. Defeat the sorrow by rejoicing in the opportunity to reflect on all you’ve experienced. And, then figure out the most audacious, creative way to wrap up your student time at W&M — even from a distance.
William & Mary is yours, always.