Text: Brittany Miller’s remarks to the Class of 2016
Text: Brittany Miller’s remarks to the Class of 2016
Brittany Miller ’16, senior class president, gave remarks to the Class of 2016 during baccalaureate on May 14, 2016. Here is the full text of her remarks, titled “Where We Call Home.”
“And where do you call home?” Often when you meet someone new this question comes up in conversation. The first 18 years of my life, this question had a concrete answer, “Oh, I’m from Peoria, Arizona… yeah, it’s basically a suburb of Phoenix.” Home. Is home where you are from? Where you have lived most of your life? Or is home as the cliché saying goes, “where your heart is?” Maybe it’s where you lay your head to rest each night and wake up each morning. One thing that I have learned over my years here at Maryville is that home is a compilation of these things.
I stepped onto the Maryville College campus for the first time in October of 2011. This was when I began to fall in love and to make a new home.
In August of 2012, many of us in this room convened on campus all together for the first time. We were greeted by smiling faces that were nice enough to help carry our 50-pound suitcases full of shoes up to the 2nd, 3rd and even 4th floor of Davis, Gamble, and Copeland. That first week seems like a lifetime away. We bonded with our orientation groups, met our Peer Mentors, and made friends who many of us still cling to today. We were thrown into madness and excitement and we flourished!
Since that day, new faces have joined us and we have been sad to see some faces leave as well. But we made it. Together. There has been a lot of laughter and many tears (I might have shed enough for a great number of us!) but through both there has been a sense of togetherness. I don’t believe that you can put such a small number of people onto a campus like Maryville’s and not create bonds and connections that are familial.
Home is where you grow into yourself?
I have cheered so many of you on as you have shined at home on the court, field, and stage. I have watched you come to life in the classroom and in Pearson’s dining hall and in every space on this beautiful campus – the welcome luau, countless practices, dance shows, game days, SGA meetings that we thought would never end, nail-biting intramurals finals, the hours of service, homecoming parades and victories, finals breakfast, group study sessions, candlelight vigils, Blister in the Sun/rain, climbing the tower, and looking back at all that we have accomplished. All of that is home.
Home is where you learn?
Do you remember the day you declared your major? Or the day you changed it? The hours that you spent in the office of your advisor discussing options and the future or just general things about life? When you turned in that application for an internship you thought you’d never get, or to study abroad in a place you never thought you’d see? The first test we aced, the first test we didn’t, and the hours that we have poured into bettering our minds will serve us for the rest of our lives. The selfies that we took with our bound theses and the pure relief that came with the end of comps. These moments accumulate in the degree that we will receive when we walk across the stage tomorrow, these moments are home.
Home is where you are not afraid to fail?
Mountain Challenge and our Peer Mentors encouraged us to find our comfort zone and to go one step beyond it. At first this meant getting on the tower, doing the ropes courses, making new friends but over time it has come to mean, taking a class that challenged us or going on an adventure with friends, maybe it meant being bold and not fearing the fall. Maryville College is a place full of opportunities to do something new, to experience things and to meet people who challenge your comfort zone. Over four years, I have seen so many of you grow into leaders in your respective ways and I am honored to be among each of you and to be inspired by the strides you are taking. This challenge, this risk, and the many rewards, this is home.
Home is where your family is?
I don’t remember the first time that I called Maryville College home, it just sort of happened, but I can tell you that my mom was not happy about it. The funny thing is, I have never stopped calling the house that I grew up in home, I have never stopped calling Arizona my home because it always will be. What I have learned at Maryville College is that we can have many homes and that we as students of this great institution have been blessed to be encompassed by an institution and by many individuals who have made Maryville College home. Professors, advisors, faculty, staff and all of the students on campus have a connection, a respect and a genuine feeling of care for one another that is unique. Every day since that first day that I set foot on campus I have known that no matter what building I entered or whose paths I crossed, there would be people who I knew and cared about to greet me. This comfort is home.
This community and this feeling, this is Maryville College, and this is home and though we graduate tomorrow, we can feel a sense of gratefulness as we leave a home where doors will always be open to us.
Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200 students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”