Grace King '18 and Loren Walden '18 | St. Lawrence University Commencement

Grace King '18 and Loren Walden '18

Remarks to Graduates, May 20, 2018

Good morning Class of 2018.

It was a warm fall day, the opening week of our senior year at St. Lawrence. I sat on the porch of my house, Commons College, and my legs hung over the arm of the Adirondack chair I sat on. The September breeze mixed with the remainder of the stagnantly warm air, pushing summer further and further away. My housemates crowded the picnic table bench, their voices bouncing off of each other as we shared stories of our months apart traveling, working, and exploring the world beyond St. Lawrence. Now, we had returned for one more year in the place that had become home. The faces that had once been so unfamiliar were now the ones I cherished the most, and we spent that afternoon sharing stories and reconnecting after our time away.

Stories are a means of connection. They are the bridge between people: a way of joining together with others and relating through ideas and experiences. To the Class of 2018, think about your St. Lawrence story. Who has influenced your time here? What are the adventures that make your story unique? What things will you hold onto most tightly, ready to share with others in order to connect and make your voice heard?

Our stories of our time here are distinct and different, shaped by our identities and our lived experiences. But our stories also share commonalities, shared connections that draw us together as a class. Our stories involve laughter, love, and friendship. But our stories also involve tragedy, heartbreak, the loss of our classmate Luke, and grief. We have leaned on each other in the most trying of times, cried and hugged each other. And this heartbreak is now a part of our story.

To the Class of 2018, our stories with St. Lawrence as the backdrop are coming to an end. But our stories with St. Lawrence as a connection are just beginning. When you sit on an Adirondack chair in the late days of summer, surrounded by people you care about, may it bring you back to your days spent sharing and creating stories with your classmates here.

Author and professor Robert Mckee said, “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.” So as we walk across this stage and close this chapter of our story, let us not forget the responsibility that we carry, both as members of this community and as citizens of the world, to tell our stories. Do your best, Class of 2018, to share your stories of your time here with those who cross your path. And don’t forget to come back and share your next chapter. Reach back to St. Lawrence for strength, and to strengthen others.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and to allow those mistakes to become a part of your story. For it is then, when we humble ourselves to life and what it whirls us into, when we truly grow. May our experiences here continue to enhance our stories beyond the walls of this campus. From both of us, thank you for being a part of our stories. Congratulations, Class of 2018!