I’ve found myself being reflective recently about a lot of things. A simple walk home across the bridge counting the Smoots as I go brings all kinds of thoughts to mind. This happens every summer as the academic year comes to a close culminating in graduation and Tech Reunions on our campus but this year is different.
Last year I attended the 25th reunion of my MIT class. It was quite a party with a record number of classmates and their families in attendance and ended with the final celebration of MIT150. At the same time, I bid the Class of 2011 goodbye with the promise that I would see them in five years when they would all come back to campus for their 5th reunion and I would be here once again for my 30th. My reunion experiences will now forever be tied with theirs and it will give me the excuse to see a class that I am rather fond of, especially those who lived in the Alpha Phi sorority house with me while they were undergrads. That class is special in its own way just as the ones that have come before and those that will come after are.
I’ve often said it gets harder each year to say goodbye to the graduating seniors because due to the passage of time I’ve had a better opportunity to get to know them. This year however I’ve reached the maximum time that I will have to ever get to know a class since the Class of 2012 are those whose applications I first ready when I joined the Admissions Office just five years ago. They are and will always be “my first class” and that means they will always be special to me.
They were the first who told me their stories, how growing up, their high school, and the people they met there influenced them and brought them to the point that made MIT the right college for them. I read their files, took part in deciding to admit them and welcomed them to campus for CPW that April. I saw their nerves when they first stepped off the bus that spring day, coupled with the wonder and excitement of being on the campus for real. I saw their pleasure as they first experienced liquid nitrogen ice cream and attended the acapella concert. By the time they got to the closing show they were exhausted but I knew many of them would return in the fall as freshmen and I was thrilled that I would be here to welcome them to the MIT family.
They returned in droves, registered for classes, went through REX and recruitment, survived their GIR’s and got credit for classes already taken. They formed study groups and more importantly they became a part of the MIT community and lots of other little communities. They picked majors and then they changed majors and some changed majors yet again. Some played sports, some played instruments and some just played ultimate Frisbee in the Great Court but they learned to balance play with work knowing that all of those things were important. They could stay up and get things accomplished when they needed to but also knew sometimes they just needed to have fun. I saw all of these things but also I got to watch them grow up in many ways that they have yet to even realize…ways that will be a part of them when their time at MIT really is just a nice memory.
So after waking across the bridge last night I walked into the TV room in the sorority house and saw many of the seniors taking a break from Senior Week activities before they headed off to the Red Sox game together. I didn’t really listen to the conversation but more to the voices as they caught up with each other and the other sisters who walked through. It wasn’t about what they said but about hearing the differences in the tones of their voices, their confidence as they spoke…it was so different from when I met them all a few short years ago. As they are making plans for their future I am overwhelmed at all the different things they are doing but proud as well that they are taking what they learned here and using it in such amazing ways. Each one of them has the potential to do great things and I feel certain that they will help to make this world a better place, each in their own way.
So to the Class of 2012…thanks for letting me be an observer to your lives for the last five years. Know that you will always hold a special place in my heart and memory. I wish you well. I'm so proud of each of you!