Friday, May 13, 2011

Graduation Announcement

As per my father’s request, and the logical underpinnings that led me to the same conclusion, here is my graduation announcement:

I’m graduating.

It has been an amazing experience. I can remember how unsure I was the day my dad dropped me off at Skidmore. A totally new world away from all support systems. I had no idea what I was in for. In my time here I joined a sport that showed me the power of discipline and the beauty of a sunrise on still water. I travelled to Spain and found friends that have endured the test of Europe and Skidmore’s helter skelter life. I have taken classes on Islamic Art History, US-Indian Relations, Sex and Power, Human Rights, Sustainable Development, Video Art, Peaceful Conflict Resolution, and the Economics of European Integration. I live with and next door to some of the most amazing people I have ever met, a collection of individuals that can be described as nothing less than family. I pursued the founding and blossoming of a mediation club on this campus; something that resulted in outreach to local high schools, elementary students, mediation in Saratoga Springs, and on-campus dialogues about race, privilege, and alcohol abuse. I wrote a thesis on regional development in Washoe County, the culmination of three years’ work and the support of my very intelligent and helpful advisors.

I lived in the dorms and partied till I puked. I sobered up and found a way to have fun without going to excess. I struggled through the growing pains that accompany this portion of my life. I learned to do dishes and have a stable long-distance relationship with the most wonderful woman I know. I worked as a supervisor in the dining hall, helping freshmen adjust to the tribulations of college life. I pulled only four all-nighters; a real achievement to the countless ones that my other friends have done.

I now have supports in countless places. I am confident that my idealism and conviction to pursue a just and meaningful existence is not rooted in the ivory tower that so many refer to as the Skidmore Bubble, but rather a realization that if I want something out of the world I will have to be more passionate than any detractors, more informed than any slanderers, and more forgiving than any who would try to take that away.

I am a graduate of Skidmore College. I am a member of the 100th graduating class of an institution that has shown me love, support, knowledge, and the chance to pursue my passions beyond anything I could have imagined.

I am here because of those that could not be here with me. I owe so much to everyone who asked me what college life was like and genuinely listened when I talked. I owe so much to the friends and family that endured personal tragedy and still managed to be there for me over a seemingly endless distance. My graduation is the culmination of the intersections of lives that have formed me. I am myself because of the fibers that make up my being—each with the signature of another person on it.

There is a Buddhist saying that a piece of paper is made up of non-paper elements; it is the culmination of the sun that shined on the tree’s leaves, the cloud that made the rain that fell on the tree, the bread that fed the logger that cut down the tree. The paper contains all the things that made it—it is thus made of non-paper elements.

I believe that. As I graduate, I can’t help notice that I am part of the world, and that those non-Nick elements that make up my being will be walking down the aisle with me as well. And I can’t wait to give those elements back to the world.

I am deeply grateful and humbled by everyone’s contributions. Thank you.