Duke New Undergraduate Student Convocation 2019

Duke New Undergraduate Student Convocation 2019

August 27, 2019 1 By Stanley Isaacs


Speaker: LET US PRAY. AND NEW BEGINNING. HEARTS, YOU KNOW THAT SOME ARE
JULEP JUBILANT AND OTHERS ARE JITTERY. IN TO DUKE WHILE OTHERS ARE
PRETTY CONFIDENT THAT DUKE MADE THE RIGHT DECISION TO ACCEPT
THEM.GET ALONG WITH MY ROOMMATE? WILL I BE SMART ENOUGH?WILL I BE
ACCEPTED? AS WE STAND IN THIS HALLOWED
HALL OF FAME TEMPLE OF BASKETBALL HOOPS,
CALM OUR ANXIETIES TODAY AND FILL US WITH BRIGHT HOPES FOR
TOMORROW. REPRESENTS FORESHADOWS OUR DAYS
AHEAD. COMMITMENT, CHALLENGE,
CREATIVITY, COLLABORATION AND CELEBRATION. COURT WE PLAY ON, WHETHER WE
SHOOT AND MISS, JUMP AND FALL, MAKE FOULS
IN RELATIONSHIPS OR SLAM DUNKS OF EXCELLENCE IN THE CLASSROOM. CELEBRATES ALL WHO ARE ON THE
TEAM. EARTHLY CLOUD OF WITNESSES WHO
CHEERED US ON FROM THE BLEACHERS OF LIFE
AND MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR US TO BE HERE. LOVE, EVEN HERE, THE FACULTY,
STAFF AND STUDENTS WHO WILL LEAD US IN TO A DEEPER SENSE OF
LEARNING, SERVICE, DISCOVERY AND TEAMWORK. NEW THAT EVEN IN A FRACTURED
WORLD, THIS CLASS OF 2023 WILL BE INDUCTED
INTO THE HALL OF FAME OF HUMANITY, BECAUSE THEY KNEW WHAT IT MEANT TO LEARN,
LIVE AND LOVE IN COMMUNITY. PLEASE BE SEATED. FOR ANY POTENTIAL VOICE CRACKS
THAT MAY OCCUR. POLOS YESTERDAY YELLING AT
EVERYONE IN THE COLORFUL SHIRTS TO GET THINGS OUT YOUR CAR AS
QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE, SO I’M SORRY. EXTREMELY EXCITED AND HONORED TO
BE STANDING IN FRONT OF YOU AS YOUR STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT. AND TO OUR CAMPUS. YOU GETTING HERE, SO
CONGRATULATIONS TO [Applause] LOOKING OUT AT ALL OF YOU TODAY,
I CAN’T HELP BUT BE REMINDED OF MY OWN MOVE-IN DAY AND MY OWN
ORIENTATION WEEK, AND IF YOU’RE ANYTHING LIKE ME, YOU’VE THOUGHT
A LOT ABOUT DUKE LEADING UP TO THIS POINT. WAS IN YOUR SEAT NOT TOO LONG
AGO, I WOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO PREDICT MY FOUR YEARS
AHEAD OF ME. 18-YEAR-OLD SELF WHAT HER NEXT
YEARS WOULD BRING, SHE PROBABLY WOULD HAVE BEEN DISAPPOINTED IN
HOW ALL OF HER BIG SHE WOULD BE DISAPPOINTED
BECAUSE I WOULD HAVE TO TELL HER THAT IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS SHE
WOULD MAKE A SPONTANEOUS 8-HOUR ROAD TRIP TO SEE A CONCERT WITH
FRIENDS SHE BARELY KNEW INSTEAD OF STUDYING FOR HER FIRST
CHEMISTRY MIDTERM. UNSURPRISINGLY, THAT MIDTERM DID
NOT GO WELL. SEMESTER OF COLLEGE, SHE DECIDED
TO TRY OUT AN INTRODUCTORY COMPUTER SCIENCE COURSE INSTEAD
OF AN EARLY COURSE REQUIREMENT FOR HER MAJOR, ONLY TO LEARN
JUST A LITTLE TOO LATE HOW MUCH SHE HATED COMPUTER SCIENCE. FOR HER MCAT HER JUNIOR YEAR,
SHE APPLIED TO A BUNCH OF CONSULTING INTERNSHIPS, EVEN
THOUGH SHE HAD BEEN PRE-MED SINCE THE DAY SHE STEPPED FOOT ON CAMPUS, ONLY TO GET NO
OFFERS, LIKE, SERIOUSLY, ZERO OFFERS.REALLY — IT WILL REALLY
MAKE SENSE. SELF DOUBT SHE FACED WHEN SHE
LEARNED THAT STUDYING AS HARD AS SHE POSSIBLY COULD WOULD NOT
ALWAYS GET HER AN “A.I WOULD TELL HER ABOUT THE COURSE SHE
HAD TO WITHDRAW FROM. BY COMMITMENTS SHE HAD TO WALK
AWAY FROM SOME OF THE CLUBS SHE HAD JOINED. IF GIVEN THE CHANCE, I WOULD DO
IT ALL OVER AGAIN. OF YOU AND PROBABLY A LOT OF
PARENTS IN THE ROOM. PLANNED THREE YEARS AGO, I WOULD
HAVE MISSED OUT ON SOME OF THE BEST AND MOST MEANINGFUL MOMENTS
I’VE HAD AT DUKE. BUT I WOULDN’T HAVE MET MY BEST
FRIENDS IN THE BELL TOWER COMMON ROOM
STUDYING FRANTICALLY FOR THE SECOND. MY DORM FEEL LIKE HOME. FIRST SUMMER LIKE I THOUGHT I
WOULD, I WOULDN’T HAVE ENDED UP STUDYING ABROAD IN ITALY FOR TWO
MONTHS, TAKING A CLASS ON FOOD CULTURE AND CONNECTING WITH
FAMILY I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD GET TO MEET IN PERSON. TRANSITION TO COLLEGE, I
WOULDN’T HAVE FOUND A STRONGER BELIEF IN MYSELF. ASKING FOR HELP, AND I WOULDN’T
HAVE ESTABLISHED THE SUPPORT SYSTEMS THAT ARE THE REASON I’M
ABLE TO STAND IN FRONT OF YOU TODAY. LUCKY, YOUR NEXT FOUR YEARS
WON’T GO TO PLAN AT ALL. SHOWS YOU ATTEND BECAUSE YOU
HAPPENED TO SOMEONE YOU SIT NEXT TO IN
CLASS, YOU’RE RANDOMLY ASSIGNED A ROOMMATE, A STRANGER IN
MARKETPLACE COULD BECOME A LIFELONG FRIEND.YOU REALLY
WANTED TO JOIN. OF OTHERS — HUNDREDS OF OTHERS
TO TURN TO. AT SOMETHING. NEVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE. CERTAIN THINGS, TAKING SPECIFIC
CLASSES, JOINING THESE GROUPS AND NOT THOSE, BUT THAT COULDN’T BE FARTHER
FROM THE TRUTH. PATH TO SUCCESS, AND THE SOONER
YOU ACCEPT AND ENJOY THE WINDING PATH THAT YOU’RE ON, THE SOONER
YOU’LL START TO FIND YOUR PLACE HERE. INVOLVE ACING YOUR TESTS,
RESEARCH PUBLICATIONS, GRAD SCHOOL ACCEPTANCES, DREAM JOB OFFERS, AND MANY WINS
AND AWARDS, BUT I’M ALSO SURE THAT FOR EVEN MORE OF YOU, THERE
WILL BE LANDMARKS LIKE IMMERSING YOURSELF IN A PASSION, EMBRACING
YOUR IDENTITIES, SPEAKING OUT ABOUT THE THINGS YOU SEE AROUND
YOU, GENUINELY LOVING WHAT YOU’RE LEARNING, BUILDING STRONG
COMMUNITIES AND FINDING FRIENDS THAT PUSH YOU TO BE A BETTER
PERSON. I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE HOW YOUR
PLANS DEVELOP INTO MORE THAN YOU EVER COULD HAVE IMAGINED, AND
HOW YOU GROW AS A RESULT OF THIS, AND HOW OUR CAMPUS CLASS FROM YOUR HOMETOWN, SO
YOU’RE A PRETTY DIVERSE GROUP AND NOW YOU’RE AND I’D LIKE TO TALK BRIEFLY
ABOUT HOW DUKE CHOSE YOU AND WHAT THAT
MEANS ABOUT YOUR TIME HERE. MAY NOT SURPRISE YOU, I’M GOING
TO USE A SPORTS ANALOGY. TAKE A LOT OF FACTORS INTO
ACCOUNT. STUDENTS BECAUSE OF THE PLAYERS
THEY ARE. PLAYERS THEY CAN BECOME, AND
BECOME AT A LEVEL MUCH HIGHER THAN HIGH SCHOOL. SAME LINES. BUT WE DIDN’T ADMIT YOU BECAUSE
OF WHAT YOU DID. CAPABLE OF DOING, CAPABLE OF
BECOMING. DO WHEN THAT THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT OF
BEING HERE. MY COLLEAGUES BEHIND ME WILL
GIVE YOU THIS SPECIAL CHANCE TO THINK AND WRITE AND
LEARN ON A WHOLE DIFFERENT LEVEL.RIGHT THE FIRST TIME OR
EVEN THE SECOND, BUT YOU WILL GET IT RIGHT, AND THAT’S WHAT WE
SAW IN YOU. MEMBER SAID TO ME, THEY MAKE
LEAPS RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR EYES. THINGS EXACTLY THE WAY YOU’VE
ALWAYS AND THEY WON’T COME WITHOUT
STUMBLES AND WITHOUT RISKS AND WITH HARD WORK, BUT THEY COME. GROWING AND CHANGING AND HELPING
EACH OTHER. YOU’RE ABLE AND WILLING AND
READY. 镁镁茂 FROM YOUR VERY FIRST DAYS FROM YOUR VERY FIRST DAYS HERE.
I SHARE GREAT CONFIDENCE IN THE QUALIFICATIONS OF THE CLASS.
ON BEHALF OF ALL OF THE FACULTY, I AM VERY PLEASED TO WELCOME
YOU, THE CLASS OF 2023 TO DUKE UNIVERSITY.
WELCOME. [Applause] Speaker: OUR UNDERGRADUATE
DEGREE PROGRAMS ALLOW STUDENTS TO BROADEN THEIR UNDERSTANDING
OF THE WORLD, AND TO DEVELOP A DEEPER SENSE OF THEIR PLACE IN
IT. AS DUKE STUDENTS, YOU WILL HAVE
A GREAT OPPORTUNITY THAN EVER BEFORE TO BRING ABOUT MEANINGFUL
CHANGE, WHETHER THROUGH YOUR LEARNING, YOUR SERVICE OR YOUR
ENGAGEMENT WITH YOUR NEIGHBORS. I SHARE MY COLLEAGUES’
ADMIRATION FOR THIS GROUP. ON BEHALF OF THE ENTIRE
UNDERGRADUATE COMMUNITY, I HEREBICEPS THE CLASS OF 2023 AND
WELCOME YOU TO DUKE UNIVERSITY. PARENTS AND COLLEAGUES, PLEASE
JOIN ME AFTERNOON.
AND TO THE GREAT CLASS OF 2023, WELCOME TO DUKE.
AND TO ALL OF THOSE IN CONGRATULATE THEM.
Speaker: WHO BROUGHT THESE FABULOUS STUDENTS TO US TODAY,
THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH. IN FACT, I WOULD LIKE THE CLASS
OF 2023 TO PLEASE STAND AND THANK ALL OF THOSE RESPONSIBLE
FOR YOUR BEING HERE TODAY. [Applause] THANK YOU.
I ALSO WANT TO RECOGNIZE PROVOST AND CHIEF ACADEMIC OFFICER,
SALLY CORNBLUTH, VICE PROVOST FOR UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION,
GARY BENNETT, VICE PRESIDENT AND VICE PROVOST FOR CAMPUS, MARY
PAT McMANN, OUR DEANS, ADMINISTRATORS, AND ALL OF THE
FACULTY WHO MAKE THIS COMMUNITY SO EXCEPTIONAL. [Applause] WELL, YOU’RE MOVED IN.
I WAS OUT THERE ON EAST CAMPUS, HELPING WITH MOVE-IN YESTERDAY,
AND A QUICK NOTE, IF YOU LIVE IN JARVIS AND YOU’RE MISSING A MINI
‘FRIGE, I THINK I MIGHT HAVE LEFT IT IN ONE OF THE COMMON ROOMS.
AND TO YOUR PARENTS, SIBLINGS AND FRIENDS WHO CAME TO HELP YOU
MOVE IN, WELL, IT’S TIME. TIME FOR CONGRATULATIONS, AND
THEN GOOD-BYE. IF YOU WANT TO STICK AROUND,
YOU’LL HAVE TO TALK TO OUR ADMISSIONS OFFICE ABOUT FILING AN APPLICATION.
OTHERWISE, IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO TAKE YOUR LEAVE AND TO LEAVE IT
TO YOUR STUDENTS TO BEGIN EXPLORING DUKE.
AND TO BE SURE THERE IS MUCH TO EXPLORE.
THIS STORIED GYM, FOR ONE, BUT I HAVE TO TELL YOU, YOU’RE NOT
SEEING IT AT ITS BEST. COME BACK WHEN ONE OF OUR
VOLLEYBALL OR BASKET BALL OR FENCING TEAMS IS ON THE FLOOR,
AND THIS PLACE WILL BE ROCKING. BUT OTHER CORNERS OF THE CAMPUS
ARE ALREADY BURSTING WITH LIFE. FROM THE RUBENSTEIN ART CENTER
WITH ITS LIGHT-FILLED DANCE STUDIOS TO THE CLASSROOMS AND
THE LABS, WHERE YOUR PROFESSORS ARE PREPARING FOR YOUR ARRIVAL,
TO THE GLORIOUS AFTERNOONS IN THE DUKE GARDENS, AS WE HEAD
INTO THE FALL. YOU MIGHT THINK THIS CAMPUS IS A
PARALLEL UNIVERSE. THAT IS NOT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF
THIS MARKER. THE SO-CALLED FATHER OF
GEOGRAPHY FIRST ATTEMPTED TO MEASURE THE CIRCUMFERENCE OF THE
EARTH IN THE THIRD CENTURY B.C.E., HE DID IT BY PROJECTING
THIS LINE, WHICH WE NOW KNOW AS THE 36TH PARALLEL.
AND WHICH NEATLY BISSECTS THE GREEK ISLANDS AND THE ENTIRE
ANCIENT MEDITERRANEAN WORLD. IN THE CENTURIES SINCE, IT HAS
GUIDED UNTOLD TRAVELLERS, DREAMERS AND EXPLORERS, AND NOW
IT HAS BROUGHT YOU HERE TO DUKE. THE 36TH PARALLEL ILLUSTRATES
JUST HOW FAR THIS CLASS HAS COME TO GET HERE.
IN ITS VAST LAP AROUND THE FROM TIME TO WORLD, THE LINE
RUNS THROUGH REMARKABLE PLACES, SOME OF WHICH ARE VERY FAMILIAR
TO YOU AND YOUR CLASSMATES. IT PASSES THROUGH SOUTHERN
CALIFORNIA, WHERE I WAS BORN AND RAISED, ALONG WITH MANY MEMBERS
OF THE CLASS OF 2023. THE PARALLEL ALSO PASSES THROUGH
SOME OF THE MOST EMBATTLED AND CULTURALLY SIGNIFICANT PLACES IN
THE MIDDLE EAST. IT PASSES THROUGH CHINA, HOME TO
THREE OF YOU, AND TO DUKE UNIVERSITY.
IT PASSES JUST NORTH OF BUSSAN SOUTH KOREA, HOME TO TWO OF YOU,
AND THROUGH A THOUSAND SMALLER TOWNS ALONG THE WAY.
CLOSER TO DUKE, IT CUTS DIRECTLY THROUGH TULSA, OKLAHOMA AND
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE. ARE THERE ANY TULSANS OR
NASHVILLIANS WITH US TODAY? WELCOME. BUT TODAY, I’D LIKE US TO PAUSE
FOR A MOMENT AND CONTEMPLATE THE 36TH PARALLEL, NOT JUST TO NOTE
A CURIOSITY ON OUR CAMPUS, BUT TO THINK ABOUT WHAT THESE KINDS
OF LINES SIGNIFY. I THINK THERE MAY ACTUALLY BE
SOME INTERESTING LESSONS FOR US HERE TODAY WHEN WE THINK ABOUT
SUCH IMAGINARY LINES. FIRST, LINES ALLOW US TO MAP.
THEY HELP US DRAW PLACES AND DEFINE SPACES.
AND THE 36TH PARALLEL CAN LITERALLY SHOW YOU THE WAY
AROUND WHILE YOU’RE HERE, IN A HAPPY ACCIDENT HISTORY, CAMPUS
DRIVE ALMOST EXACTLY FOLLOWS THE LINE.
SO IF YOU EVER GET LOST SOMEWHERE BETWEEN EAST CAMPUS
AND WEST, I SUPPOSE YOU COULD NAVIGATE OLD STYLE BY USING A
SECTION. BUT ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, YOU WILL
BE CHARTING YOUR OWN COURSE HERE.
A COURSE OF STUDY TO BE SURE, BUT ALSO LINING UP NEW
FRIENDSHIPS, CLUBS, RESEARCH, PRODUCING AND PERFORMING WORKS
OF ART, PLAYING SPORTS, PERHAPS TRAVELING ABROAD.
AND AS YOU ARE MAPPING YOUR WAY, WRITING PAPERS, POEMS AND LAB
REPORTS WHILE JUGGLING YOUR ACTIVITIES, YOU MAY, AT POINTS,
FEEL A BIT OVERWHELMED OR EXHAUSTED, ANXIOUS OR FLAT-OUT LOST.
AND WHEN THAT HAPPENS, PLEASE REACH OUT FOR SOME ASSISTANCE IN
NAVIGATING. AS LIV McKINNEY SO NICELY,
BEAUTIFULLY POINTED OUT, WHEN YOU LOSE YOUR LINE, WHEN YOU
VEER OFF COURSE AND BECOME DISORIENTED, IT IS NOT
NECESSARILY CAUSE FOR CONCERN. YOU MAY JUST DISCOVER PLACES YOU
HAD NEVER IMAGINED, PEOPLE YOU HAD NEVER EXPECTED TO BEFRIEND,
IDEAS THAT HELP YOU GET BACK ON COURSE IF YOU WANT, OR TO
RE-CHART YOUR COURSE, OR MAYBE EVEN RE-DRAW THE WHOLE MAP. SECOND, LINES ALLOW US TO
CONNECT. THEY CAN SERVE AS LINKS BETWEEN
DISPARATE POINTS. WHEN THE 36TH PARALLEL WAS FIRST
PROJECTED SOME 2300 YEARS AGO, HE SCARCELY COULD HAVE IMAGINED
THE CONNECTIONS IT HAS ALLOWED HUMANITY TO MAKE, BRIDGING
CULTURES AND CONTINENTS AND FACILITATING A MUCH WIDER AND
DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF OUR PLACE IN THE WORLD.
SO ANOTHER WAY TO THINK ABOUT YOUR EDUCATION IS TO FOCUS ON
THE POINTS, THE PLACES, THE PEOPLE YOU WILL DRAW TOGETHER.
AS IS OFTEN SAID, LEARNING IS OFTEN ABOUT CONNECTING THE DOTS.
YOUR ROOMMATES, YOUR CLASSMATES AND TEAMMATES, YOUR TEACHERS AND
ADVISORS, WILL CHALLENGE YOUR PERSPECTIVES AND OPINIONS, AND
IF YOU’RE WILLING TO CONNECT WITH THEM, THEY’LL HAVE A GREAT
DEAL TO TEACH YOU ABOUT HOW TO LIVE IN AND EXPERIENCE THE
WORLD. SOME OF THE MOST REMARKABLE
THINGS THAT YOU WILL LEARN AT DUKE WILL COME FROM ONE ANOTHER,
NOT IN THE CLASSROOM OR IN THE LAB, BUT IN CONVERSATIONS LATE
AT NIGHT IN THE DORMS, OVER BREAKFAST IN THE MARKETPLACE, OR
EVEN WHILE YOU’RE TENTING. BE OPEN TO THOSE CONNECTIONS.
I HOPE THAT YOU’LL ALSO TAKE THESE CONNECTIONS AS INSPIRATION
TO DRAW YOUR OWN VERY BROAD CONNECTIONS ACROSS DISCIPLINES,
OVER TIME, BETWEEN THEORY AND PRACTICE.
AS HAS NO DOUBT ALREADY BEEN MADE KNOWN TO YOU, DUKE IS A
UNIVERSITY FIRMLY GROUNDED IN THE LIBERAL ARTS.
THAT IS, WE’RE COMMITTED TO A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO KNOWLEDGE.
WE BELIEVE THAT BY STUDYING LITERATURE AND HISTORY AND THE
ARTS, ALONGSIDE THE SCIENCES AND MATH, WE GAIN EVER-MORE
OPPORTUNITIES TO DRAW THOSE CONNECTIONS.
AND IN SO DOING, DRAW A FULLER PICTURE OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE
HUMAN. NOW, I SHOULD CLOSE BY NOTING A
THIRD FUNCTION OF LINES, WHICH IS THAT THEY ALLOW US TO DIVIDE.
WE OFTEN DRAW LINES TO SERVE AS BOUNDARIES.
JUST AS ARITOSTHENES COULD SCARCELY HAVE
SEEN THE CONNECTIONS FACILITATED BY HIS IMAGINARY LINES, HE COULD
NOT HAVE KNOWN SOME OF THE MORE DUBIOUS PURPOSES THIS LINE WOULD
SERVE ARITOSTHENES COULD NOT HAVE FORESEEN THAT 19TH CENTURY
AMERICANS WOULD USE THE 36TH PARALLEL TO DRAW THE NORTHERN
BOUNDARY OF SLAVERY IN THE MISSOURI COMPROMISE, A
COMPROMISE THAT MAY HAVE FORESTALLED BUT COULD NOT
PREVENT THIS NATION’S JOURNEY TOWARDS CIVIL WAR, OR THAT THE
36TH PARALLEL WOULD MARK THE BOUNDARY OF THE NO FLY ZONE IN
IRAQ OR THE FRONT LINES OF THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR.
TODAY, WE’RE CONFRONTED AROUND THE GLOBE BY INTENSE DIVISIONS
OVER DISPUTED BOUNDARIES, AND BORDER LINES OVER WHICH GOODS
AND PEOPLE AND IDEAS TRAVEL. WHEN WE DRAW LINES, WE OFTEN
OVER-SIMPLIFY. WE RISK MISSING A TRUTH THAT IS
OFTEN MUCH MORE COMPLICATED AND RICHER AND BLURRIER THAN OUR
IMAGINARY LINES SUGGEST. AND IF WE CONFUSE THE LINES THAT
WE DRAW WITH REALITY, WE RISK EMBRACING DIVISION OVER
CONNECTION. WE RISK LETTING OUR OWN
BOUNDARIES BOX US IN. CONFRONTING THAT RISK MEANS
REACHING OVER THE LINES THAT WOULD OTHERWISE LIMIT OUR WORLD
VIEW, AND IF WE TRULY LISTEN TO OUR NEIGHBORS, LISTEN CAREFULLY,
AND VOICE OUR DISAGREEMENTS WITH THEM RESPECTFULLY, WE’LL EMERGE
WITH A MUCH FULLER SENSE OF OUR PLACE IN THE WORLD.
REACHING OUT TO MAKE CONNECTIONS, ESPECIALLY
CONNECTIONS ACROSS THE BOUNDARIES THAT ENCIRCLE US,
REMINDS US THAT THE LINES THAT WE THINK DIVIDE US ARE ONLY
IMAGINARY. WE BECOME MORE OPEN TO PEOPLE.
STUDENTS OF THE WORLD SEEKING TO LEARN FROM OUR NEIGHBORS, RATHER
THAN DRAW BOUNDARIES AGAINST THEM.
OVER THE COURSE OF YOUR FOUR YEARS HERE AT DUKE, I HOPE
YOU’LL BE A BOUNDARY CROSSER, THAT YOU’LL SEEK OUT WHAT
INTERESTS YOU, WHAT CHALLENGES YOU, WHAT SCARES YOU, WHAT
EXCITES YOU. ARE YOU PLANNING TO CONDUCT
BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH? WELL, TRY A SHORT STORY WRITING
WORKSHOP, AND YOU COULD END UP WRITING SCIENCE FICTION ABOUT
GENETIC ENGINEERING. IS ART HISTORY YOUR STRENGTH?
WHY NOT TAKE A CHEMISTRY CLASS THAT PERHAPS TEACHES YOU ABOUT
METHODS FOR DATING PAINT PIGMENTS.
BUT THERE IS ONE BOUNDARY THAT I HOPE YOU WILL DRAW.
I KNOW HOW EXHILARATING LIFE AT DUKE CAN BE.
I KNOW HOW DRIVEN DUKE STUDENTS CAN BE.
THE FEAR OF MISSING OUT CAN GET THE BEST OF US.
OUR DRIVE IS ADMIRABLE, BUT IT CAN DRIVE US TO DISTRACTION.
IT CAN WEAR US DOWN. SO I HOPE EACH OF YOU DRAWS
ANOTHER IMAGINARY LINE, ONE THAT SAYS, I NEED SOME SPACE, SPACE
TO RELAX, SPACE TO REFLECT, SOME SPACE TO FOCUS ON MY HEALTH.
AND PLEASE, GET SOME SLEEP. NOT NOW, NOT THIS MOMENT.
STAY WITH ME. STAY WITH ME.
BUT I DO WANT TO EMPHASIZE THIS LAST POINT.
THE RESEARCH CLEARLY DEMONSTRATES THAT WE WILL NOT BE
AT OUR BEST WITHOUT ADEQUATE REST.
AND ONE GREAT WAY TO REST IS TO TAKE IN THE GARDENS.
PLEASE DO THAT NOW AND AGAIN. AND THE NEXT TIME YOU DO, MAYBE
YOU’LL PAUSE TO REFLECT AT THAT MARKER OF THE 36TH PARALLEL OF
LATITUDE. ARITOSTHENES BELIEVED THAT THIS
LINE WAS THE CENTER OF THE WORLD.
AND WHILE OUR SCIENTIFIC UNDERSTANDING CERTAINLY EVOLVED
IN RECENT CENTURIES, WHEN IT CAME TO OUR CAMPUS, HE MIGHT
JUST HAVE BEEN RIGHT. HERE BEFORE YOU AT DUKE, ALONG
THAT IMAGINARY LINE THAT TRACES THE ROAD BETWEEN EAST AND WEST
CAMPUS, AN ENTIRE UNIVERSE OF KNOWLEDGE AWAITS YOUR
EXPLORATION. SO BRAVE EXPLORERS OF THE CLASS
OF 2023, MAY THE NEXT FOUR YEARS TAKE YOU ON A REMARKABLE JOURNEY
OF DISCOVERY THAT STARTS NOW. CONGRATULATIONS, AND WELCOME.
[Applause] YOU NEAR THE CONCLUSION OF YOUR
FIRST OFFICIAL GATHERING AS UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS OF DUKE
UNIVERSITY, I ASK YOU TO JOIN ME IN A TIME-HONORED
Speaker: TRADITION, THE SINGING OF THE ALMA MATER.
DEAR OLD DUKES, AS IT IS NOW WELL KNOWN, WAS COMPOSED BY
ROBERT HENRY JAMES, A MEMBER OF THE TRINITY COLLEGE CLASS OF
1924. HE SAID HE WAS INSPIRED TO WRITE
A SONG THAT WOULD SHOW HIS GRATITUDE AND HIS DEVOTION TO
THE UNIVERSITY. I HOPE THAT THE WORDS OF THE
ALMA MATER WILL RING TRUE FOR YOU NOT ONLY DURING YOUR FOUR
YEARS AT DUKE, BUT THROUGHOUT YOUR ENTIRE LIVES.
AND THAT YOUR TIME AT THIS PLACE WILL INSPIRE YOU EVER TO TURN,
INDEED, TO DEAR OLD DUKE. I WILL SING THE ALMA MATER
THROUGH ONCE, AND THEN I INVITE YOU TO JOIN ME IN SINGING IT. PLEASE IN EVERLASTING PRAISE.
AND THOUGH ON LIFE’S BROAD SEA, OUR FATES MAY FAR US BEAR,
WE’LL EVER TURN TO THEE, OURSTAND. ALMA MATER DEAR.
DEAR OLD DUKE THY NAME WE’LL SING.
TO THEE OUR VOICES RAISE, WE’LL RAISE, TO THEE OUR ANTHEMS RING,
IN EVERLASTING PRAISE. AND THOUGH ON LIFE’S BROAD SEA,
OUR FATES MAY FAR US BEAR, WE’LL EVER TURN TO
THEE, OUR ALMA MATER DEAR. [Applause] [MUSIC].