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Upcoming Commencement Dates

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

Wills Begor, Valedictorian

Wills BegorJune 10, 2012

Mr. President, members of the Board of Trustees, honored guests, faculty, family, friends, and fellow students—I stand before you today humbled by the profound contributions that many of you have made to my life. Mom and Dad, I want to thank you in particular for all of the loving support you have provided over the years. But, today I also stand before you as a humbled and proud member of the graduating Class of 2012!

A few days ago, a friend of mine came up to me told me that he was afraid of graduating. I think a lot of us are in that boat. He told me that he was afraid of change. So I thought I'd spend my few minutes up here talking about change: change, turmoil, chaos, and maybe even a little bit of luck. I ask that you think about all of the incredible changes that have occurred during our short four years here at Dartmouth. Consider what's happened in the world, in our markets, in our community, and in our lives.

When we entered Dartmouth, we were in the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. We were in two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan. We'd just elected our first African American President. And Justin Bieber was quickly becoming a teenage sensation.

While here in Hanover, US Airways Flight 1549 landed on the Hudson River, US unemployment reached almost 10 percent, President Obama signed a $787 billion stimulus package, Dr. Jim Yong Kim became the 17th president of Dartmouth College, Jim Yong Kim became the president of the World Bank, and word on the street is he's already looking for the next big job.

But that's not all. There was a massive earthquake in Haiti, the BP oil spill, 33 Chilean miners were trapped after 68 days underground, the iPad was released, the Arab Spring spread from Tunisia to countries such as Egypt, Libya, and Syria. Kate Middleton married Prince William (who I must say when he was younger also went by Wills. There's still hope!). US troops shot and killed Osama bin Laden. Japan was hit by a massive tsunami that caused a nuclear meltdown. The debt crisis hit Europe. And Carly Rae Jepsen released a single, "Call Me Maybe."

But here we are today. We are a generation that has been defined by uncertainty and change—but we haven't let that uncertainty limit us. Class of 2012, among us we have graduating seniors that have written and published scholarly articles, started businesses and nonprofits, done original research, and led organizations both on and off campus. We have graduating seniors that have taken leadership roles in their fraternities and sororities, been varsity athletes, accomplished artists and musicians, and incredible friends and family members.

Today, we leave Dartmouth as the best class ever, but ready to face the uncertain world ahead. I believe, however, that there will be three elements that will remain unchanged in this ever-uncertain world:

One, the turmoil and change itself. As I said before, we will be a generation that will be defined by change. Even today, we are facing big changes in our lives. Moving to New York City, Boston or even Columbus, Ohio, (Hi Lonnie!) is a big change. But we shouldn't fear change: change just means something new—a new adventure, new excitement, a new opportunity to learn.

So, the first constant element in this ever-changing world is change itself.

The second element is the reward that goes to those that constantly invest in themselves, constantly learn, and constantly try new things. Even though you are graduating from Dartmouth, your education is really only beginning. Learn a foreign language, learn to write computer code, go to a graduate school, read a book, or take on additional responsibility at work. Luck is simply what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

So the first two constant elements in this ever-changing world are, one, the dividends paid to those that constantly invest in themselves and, two, change in itself. The final constant in this ever-tumultuous world will be the relationships you have cultivated with friends and family around you. Cherish your Dartmouth friendships for they will last a lifetime, you will always have. You will always have a home here at Dartmouth to come home to.

So, Class of 2012, I encourage you to be conscious of the moment. Take time to reflect and understand that where you are today is different from where you were four years ago and it's different than where you will be four years from now. It represents an opportunity to grow, mature, and try new things.

So, Class of 2012, we are ready for the uncertainty in the world that awaits us, we are ready for the challenges, and we are ready for the excitement. Thanks and congratulations.

Last Updated: 8/17/12