Tanya Schwartz ’04
President Hansen, distinguished members of the faculty & staff, family & friends. On behalf of the class of 2004 I would like to welcome you & thank you for being part of this celebration of our wonderfully intelligent, talented, and unique class. And to my friends & classmates, congratulations on making it through four years, through the week, and out of bed for this 3 o’clock event.
When I visited Bates as a senior in high school, my host student told me I was definitely “A Batesie.” I was not sure what she meant but I liked the idea nonetheless. In the end, I chose Bates. Perhaps it was just the feeling I had or an educated guess but now I know the answer to the question “Why Bates?” It is incontrovertible. It is the people, it’s so clearly the people.
Why Bates? It is the little things Batesies do.
We began as 450 indistinguishable faces sounding something like “Hi, my name’s Tanya. What’s your name?” That slowly moved into “Where are you from?” Despite the fact that it seemed superficial & forced at the time, it turned out that some of our closest friends today are those who dared to say “hello” in those first few days. From then on, those daily interactions began to take shape as support, care, and energetic participation.
Why Bates? It is collaboration, cooperation, and continuous support.
We supported sports teams through thick & thin, tailgated before games, & jammed into alumni gym. We watched our friends dance hip-hop, take on the role of Hamlet, sing a cappella, and witnessed our classmates senior theses take over pettengill atrium & Chase Hall. From student government meetings & forums to lectures & presentations, we learned from and supported our talented friends.
Why Bates? It is the way the staff and faculty take care of us as if we were their own.
There are the Commons workers’ smiles, the friendly “hellos” from the custodians in the morning, and the efforts of security officers to ask how we are doing, and even sing us happy birthday. There are the professors raising two children who make us feel like we’re their third, who are approachable, attentive listeners, and display an authentic desire that we learn and grow. There are the Deans who drive students to the airport at 3am, attend every event, and show genuine interest in our endeavors.
Why Bates? It is the endless memories.
We took meals to sick friends & took friends to the health center; We cried through poor performances on exams, first loves and lost loves, sickness, death, and September 11th. We danced at parties, danced at Mango Quickly Shows, danced in our rooms, and danced in the third floor computer lab in Pettengill. We socialized in countless places from Pub 33 to Gene’s and from Village to 218. We rallied every Thursday night during the year, every night during Short Term, and every minute of Senior Week. And you better believe we’ll be out in full force tonight! These memories, among many others, will stay with us as we each go our separate ways.
Two weeks ago I watched a friend complete her first marathon while 13 Batesies staked out at each mile to cheer her on. To me, 3 hours 40 minutes & 26 seconds illustrated what it truly means to be a Batesie: It’s not only about her personal dream, it’s about the friends who wouldn’t have missed it, who pushed her through the last miles, and who cried when she qualified for the Boston marathon. We’ve all had moments like these that we’ve shared with one another. For these moments and for all of you, I am grateful.
You are smart, multi-talented, interesting, passionate, well-rounded and good-hearted people. You are the essence of Bates. You are Batesies!
No one here needs my advice or a rousing send-off. Your meaningful contributions simply await the application of your energy & your will. Each of us in our own unique unfolding futures will find ways to make a positive impact on the people and world around us.
Instead of advice, I offer my heartfelt wish. May all of us generate & radiate a warmth that overrides the coldest most inclement weather. May all of us overcome the predictable and unforeseen obstacles that lay ahead. May we transcend inevitable misfortunes unscathed enough to continue to care about others, to decrease suffering, and still experience, share and spread the joy of living.