Congratulations fellow graduates of the class of 2009. I am honored to be here in front of all of you today. Before I begin, I'd like to thank our families and friends, along with the faculty and staff from the University of Puget Sound, from which we have all greatly benefited. Your collective unsullied dedication to our well being has assisted each and every one of us through this "right of passage" we commonly refer to as college. For some of us, attending and graduating from college was an expectation, for others it was once only a dream. Regardless of our unique histories and childhoods, we now congregate today united by one common thread; the graduating class of 2009.
I have been thinking about what I wanted to say today for quite some time and struggled to find an appropriate theme. I promised myself I wouldn't focus on Change We Can Believe In or the current economic crisis, thinking they would both be too cliché, so I had to think of something unique. I found my answer in The Relay for Life. Now this may seem a bit strange for some of you, especially those who haven't experienced the uniting aura present on our campus each spring, but I think it's a fitting theme.
This year's Relay for Life on our campus in which we raised over $47 thousand, marked the 25th anniversary of the event. An event that started here on this very track 25 years ago by a surgeon from Tacoma, by the name of Dr. Gordy Klatt. In 1985, Dr. Klatt spent 24 hours on this track, completing over 320 laps or 80 miles. Members of his family, along with hundreds of his friends watched as he went the distance; some donating money for the opportunity to join him on what would become an historic night. The spectacle he created would not only raise over $27,000, but spark the beginning of an organization dedicated to finding a way to prevent, detect and treat cancer. While there are still millions of people affected by cancer directly or indirectly today, we are making progress toward its elimination. Relay for Life, partnering with the American Cancer Society has raised millions of dollars for cancer research while bringing together over 3.5 million people annually in the process. Today there are over 4,800 annual relays in over 20 different countries. None of this success would have been possible if it weren't for the determination that Dr. Klatt exemplified along with the support and assistance he received from others with similar dreams to put an end to Cancer.
At the doorstep of life in the "Real World," it is easy for us to become overwhelmed by the myriad of problems affecting today's society. However, selfless actions like those of Dr. Klatt shine rays of hope on our future. His efforts giving back to the community have left his surroundings better than he found them; something we should all aspire to do. Helping others and striving to improve situations around us, while appreciating what we have, are ideals embedded in a Puget Sound education. Let us appreciate the sense of community we have encountered here and continue to give back as we grow and mature, constructing our own path through life.
Being blessed with parents that care about the well-being of others more than themselves, I was brought up with an understanding of how to live a positive and beneficial life. However, I was astonished by the kindness and support surrounding me when I first stepped foot on campus here four years ago. Leaving one family, I seemed to find another instantly. I was amazed to feel so at home with all of you, comforted by the commonalities we shared and intrigued by our differences.
We were taught the importance of helping others during Perspectives in the fall of 2005 before we even attended our first lecture. For many of us, helping out the community of Tacoma has become commonplace through school sponsored events & assignments or by exploring other areas of need on our own. It is clear that we, as the graduating class of 2009 realize what we are blessed with and are willing to give back in order to better the community as a whole. These ideals would not have been fostered if it weren't for the sense of belonging we've felt here.
Many of you wish you could stay here longer, many are ready to leave now and move on to life after college but regardless of our differing emotions, we can all agree that we have all benefited from the bond we share as graduates of The University of Puget Sound.
Whether it's cheering for our basketball team as they go down to the wire against Whitworth for the 4th time in one season, or studying with a friend late into the night for that 7:30 am Ochem exam, or applauding our school's gifted musicians as they amaze their listeners once again, or explaining our government's current situation in Iran to a fellow classmate for that current events quiz in a Politics and Government class, or even if it's something as simple, and obnoxious as recording Grey's Anatomy for a friend, making sure that he or she doesn't miss McDreamy's next big move, we are a true community dedicated to supporting one another.
Despite the community support we have experienced it is not to say that we have not been put in uncomfortable positions. However it is important to remember as M. Scott Peck, Author of the Road Less Traveled once said, "The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers." Here at Puget Sound, we have all been forced outside of our comfort zones in various ways and must be grateful for such experiences.
Some of you graduating today will be leaving our campus and intentionally placing yourselves in uncomfortable situations (arguably even more uncomfortable than trying to find a job in this economy) in order to improve the life of others. Whether it's the Peace Corp and other programs similar to it, or Teach for America, our school has always had many volunteers. We the class of 2009, are no exception, not afraid to step out of our comfort zone and live life.
In addition to those of you spending your time volunteering, we also have numerous Fellowship winners who will spend time abroad in places completely foreign to them. You will be doing what you truly love, having harnessed and built your passion and inspiration during your time here at Puget Sound.
While at the time it wasn't always enjoyable being pushed to think or work harder, it is important to remember when we reflect upon our careers here that we have become prepared, thoughtful people ready to take on the world, because of the challenges we have been presented with. We are deserving of credit for this maturation but it is important to recognize those who have been responsible for teaching and fostering us along the way, preparing us to enter the real world. May we strive to do our best and continue this Logger tradition of building community while showing compassion as we venture on into the next stage in our Relay Through Life.
Thank you very much.