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Upcoming Commencement Dates

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

David Rogg, Valedictorian

RoggJune 10, 2012

Mr. President, members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, alumni, family members, friends, and, most importantly, fellow members of the class of 2012, I stand here humbled and truly honored to have been selected as one of our class' valedictorians this year. Fellow '12s—it has been a privilege getting to know many of you over the past four years. You are an incredibly impressive group—excelling in academics, arts, and athletics. You are some of the most extraordinary people I have met and I am more than confident that the world stands to benefit when Dartmouth Class of 2012 sallies forth from our College on the hill to enter into the larger community.

I find it somewhat amusing that I am called upon here to share three minutes of wisdom with all of you—me, a 22-year-old barely college graduate who has yet to master the intricacies of doing his own laundry, expected to impart something meaningful to such a diverse and inspiring group of people. Despite this sheer lack of qualifications, it dawned on me there is one key piece of advice that I received a number of years ago that takes on particular meaning for me, both today and throughout my time at Dartmouth.

When I was a senior in high school nearing graduation, wrapped up in the stresses of classes, college visits, decisions, and planning, I remember one day in particular when one of my teachers at the school stood up during an assembly to share a very simple yet powerful message. She extolled all of the graduating students and faculty in the room to always bear in mind two simple words: "be present." At first, I dismissed this advice as meaningless inspirational gibberish—the type of words you see on a poster hanging in a middle school guidance counselor's office. As minute after silent minute passed, though, these words made their way deeper and deeper until I was suddenly struck by the impact of her message.

We live in an incredibly distracting world. Surrounded by smart phones and laptops [phone rings]—perfect—[laughter] it is often easy to lose oneself on the other end of a 3-by-5-inch screen. Our lives are busy, filled with commitments both academic and otherwise, and there is always too much going on. Regrets about something said or done, nervousness about an upcoming exam or match – there are many things swirling about in our minds, pulling us away from the present.

Nowhere is this more true than at Dartmouth. Terms move so quickly and years fly by. I can't count the number of times over the past four years that I have found myself scurrying about campus, class-to-class or activity-to-activity, head down and oblivious to the incredible beauty that surrounds us and the wonderful community that we have established.

Don't get me wrong—thinking ahead and pondering what's been done can be important, and often necessary as we plan where we are going and learn from our mistakes. But as my high school teacher succinctly reminded me that sunny day of senior spring, we sometimes need to forget about all that and simply be here now. Embrace the present because it only happens once and we might miss it if we're not paying attention. We should enjoy life as we live it as opposed to living through a series of recollections. In the end, we must content ourselves with the moment and let the present inspire us.

We have been privileged to attend four years of college in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Take some time this afternoon, or tomorrow if you'll still be around, and clear your mind of all of your obligations. Forget about the hassles of moving, the pain of saying good-by, the joys of a bright and open future. Take a moment and simply enjoy being you where you are right now. Go down to the river, take a stroll in Pine Park, sit on the steps of Dartmouth Hall. Let the rare Hanover sun wash down on you as you pause to appreciate what a wonderful place you must now leave behind, that we will return to time and time again in the winding years ahead.

Congratulations, Class of 2012, for a job well done. Don't take life too seriously and take a little piece of Dartmouth along with you to wherever life takes you next. Thank you very much and enjoy the day.

Last Updated: 8/17/12