Cooper McCrillis '21

Remarks to Graduates - April 18, 2021

Greetings, Class of 2021, and a hearty congratulations on this special day!

It is my pleasure to welcome you to our commencement ceremony. As I reflected over these last few weeks leading up to today’s event, I was struck by the journey we have all undertaken during these four years. We have experienced the normal and then the abnormal. We have persevered and pushed through the difficulties of navigating the collegiate experience through a global pandemic. 

I think the powerful tenacity and drive of this uniquely challenged class is something that should be remembered as we continue our journey outside the confines of St. Lawrence. These robust characteristics have been on display since we stepped foot on this campus in August 2017 for our first-year orientation. Little did we know the tremendous mark that we would leave on this campus. We have positively impacted and been impacted by the sports fields, the arena, the labs in Johnson, the classrooms, the performance venues, and most importantly, this magical campus space that we have fondly called home. As our class navigated through our four years here, we consistently displayed our drive, energy, passion, and, most importantly, that contagious Laurentian spirit. These are all attributes that I hope each one of us retains, draws upon, and carries out into the world that we are about to enter as we leave this memorable bubble in Canton, NY.

As I continued to take a walk down memory lane this semester, I thought about all the extraordinary things we experienced together as a class over the last four years. We shared stories and laughed with friends over meals in Dana, we were awed by our classmates’ artistic endeavors and performances, we cheered and celebrated when our classmates won athletic contests, we grieved together when we lost valued members of our campus community, and we kindled and re-kindled that candle in the wilderness that we lit together during that memorable night at the beginning of our first year. Our class was there for each other as we navigated through COVID-19 and adjusted to a completely foreign way of life. We continued to look out for each other throughout all these triumphs and trials as we traversed through these last four years.

Of course, our journey would not have been possible without the support of President Fox and the Board of Trustees, our extremely dedicated professors, administration and residential staff, Security and medical staff, Coaching, Dining, Facilities and custodial staff, and the multitude of support staff that contributed to our experience here at St. Lawrence. Thank you all for your commitment and efforts that enabled us to reach this milestone today! 

Finally, Class of 2021, the world needs our grit, our determination, our tenacity, and our contagious enthusiasm more than ever. I think I can confidently say we are ready to enter the world and begin to etch our unique mark. That being said, do not forget the lessons you learned up here in the North Country. Hold these memories and this knowledge close to your heart. It is now our time, the world is waiting for us, and we can make a difference. I am never a fan of goodbyes because I know we have built bonds that will last a lifetime, and, like a candle with proper care, these connections will never be extinguished. So, I say to you, my fellow members of the Class of 2021, this is your year, this is your day, this is your moment, enjoy it, but do not waste the opportunities that lie before you. Congratulations, Class of 2021, and I will see you all down the road!