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Upcoming Commencement Dates

  • June 10, 2018
  • June 9, 2019
  • June 14, 2020
  • June 13, 2021
  • June 12, 2022

Commencement Speeches & Citations

Valedictory to the College

By Benjamin A. Gifford '10

Mr. President, members of the Board of Trustees, honored guests, family, friends, Miles:

I stand before you today, a proud member of the graduating Class of 2010. Sadly, I also stand before you today, without the mustache I've been growing all term. I wanted to keep it, but my mom said she'd post my Bar Mitzvah photos on Facebook.

Despite that, I'd like to thank my Mom—and my Dad—for giving me pretty much everything that I have today. Mom, Dad, you two are the most important people in the world to me, and you probably will always be. I can't thank you enough.

Now, three minutes isn't a very long time for a speech, especially when you're busy making bad jokes, so I thought I'd get a bit serious and tell a story from my time at Dartmouth.

See, this fall, about a month into the term, I did something really stupid, and I jeopardized my future here as a result. All in all, it was a pretty dark time for me, and while my friends and family were incredibly supportive along the way, the truth is that I never would have made it in the end if it hadn't been for the compassion shown me by the College, and by two deans in particular. They gave me a second chance.

 And second chances have me thinking, maybe even more than last chances do. Because I really screwed up—I feel terrible about what I did, I'm eternally grateful for Dartmouth's forgiveness, and I've been trying ever since to prove that I actually deserve to be here today. Take risks, of course, but don't be reckless, because life is too short to screw up.

That said, if you do see someone screwing up, try to give that person a second chance. After all, just because people screw up doesn't mean that those people are screw-ups. I'm sure all of us have screwed up a few more times than we'd like to admit.

So, I guess if there's anything I want to say to the '10s, before we all move to New York next year, it's that I hope you all give as many second chances as you can, and I also hope that you don't end up needing too many of your own. Thanks, and congratulations.

Last Updated: 3/7/16