Devan Reynolds ’13, Class of 2013 president, gave remarks to the Class of 2013 during Baccalaureate on May 19, 2013. Here is the full text:
“Insignificance and the Importance of Community”
I believe that human beings are defined by their relationships to other human beings. We
know people as being friendly, quiet, sometimes obnoxious or strange, all based on how they interact with other people. In fact, if you took the individual and put them alone, life to them would be meaningless. As individuals we are insignificant specks of dust in the universe; but by being classmates, friends, and Fighting Scots, we find meaning and are granted significance.
That’s why today is more sad than happy for me. For the last four years, I, along with all of you, have built relationships with the people around me. My family has been at Maryville College. With each graduation ceremony I’ve lost part of my family to the real world, and today it’s our turn to leave the Maryville College family and head off into the next stages of life.
Benjamin Franklin said that “an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” And we have certainly invested and received knowledge in return. But even more important, in my mind, are the experiences we have shared. We have had amazing experiences here. Most of them were legal. Some we will never forget, others we can just barely remember. All of them made memories we will cherish for the rest of our lives. Most of all it has been the little things along the way that have added up to mean so much: orientation experiences like whitewater rafting with complete strangers; staying up far too late as Freshmen playing “Signs” (sadly a game not seen much since); late night runs to Taco Bell or late night strolls around campus with our closest friends; crowding 20 people around a table with a maximum capacity of 6; $2 pints and $5 dollar burgers; bleary-eyed nights that start in the library dungeon and end at 8am in the Bartlett Sitting Room; and my personal favorite, karaoke nights at Two Doors.
I’m here today to tell you we have all done something remarkable. We’ve lived in close- quarters for four years and we still like each other. There’s also the graduation thing happening soon, that’s pretty remarkable too. I don’t need to repeat to you the rigor of the academic curriculum and the accomplishment we should all feel for having survived it. Nor do I need to remind you of how stressful the week before comps was—or how we inevitably realized the week after that they weren’t so bad after all. I certainly don’t need to mention the triumph we all felt upon binding our senior theses... and actually I can’t mention that at all because mine isn’t done yet. All you need to know from me is that you are significant, in my life and in the lives of many others, and I know that each and every one of us will improve the world in our own way, just as we have improved Maryville College in our own way.
Many of us are headed to further our education in graduate, medical, dental, or law school, while many others will join the work force. Some of us came to college wondering “what on Earth am I going to do with my life?” and are sitting in here, 4 years later, wondering the same exact thing. That’s okay, I’m in that last group too. In my lowest moments of desperation I’ve often found myself wondering what the point of coming to college was, what have I really gained from my investment in knowledge? I can write well, my public speaking has improved, my research skills are pretty top-notch, but what have I really gained? William James, apparently the father of American psychology, said that “the aim of a college education is to teach you to know a good man when you see one.” I think that’s far more valuable than one might at first realize. I see a couple hundred good men and women in the crowd right now, and I know that whatever I do in my life, I’m going to want to surround myself with people of your caliber.
Let me just say that it has been a true pleasure and honor to serve as the President of the Class of 2013. I wish you all great luck and success in your futures, but most of all I wish you happiness. And if ever you should falter, find comfort in knowing that you can always rely on your Maryville College family to support you. Thank you.
Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state‘s third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for its academic rigor and its focus on the liberal arts, Maryville is where students come to stretch their minds, stretch themselves and learn how to make a difference in the world. Total enrollment for the fall 2013 semester was 1,168.