The following speech was delivered by Will Hawley, vice president for administration of the Associated Students of Saint Mary's College, at the New Student Convocation on August 26, 2011.
Welcome to a little old place my friends and I like to call The Hill. I am pleased to welcome 850 new members to the Saint Mary's community; 850 new Gaels; 850 new faces walking these halls; 850 new fans cheering in this very gym; and most importantly, 850 new scholars.
For most, college is the first time you become completely independent. Some of you here today have never left your family home, while some have attended others schools but have wisely found their way here. You all have the common bond that this is the beginning of a fresh part of your life. The world is your XBox and you have the remote. So pop in the video game called Life or The Real World or whatever you want to call this adventure and keep advancing on to the next level.
So many new experiences, opportunities and choices will be thrown your way. For example, one persistent choice 90 percent of the students on this campus are faced with is if they are going to stay in their room and go on Facebook or if they are going to go to the library with the half-hearted intention of studying and go on Facebook. And in light of all of this opportunity and choice, you each will need to prioritize what is most important to you. And on that note, I am going to pass on some words of wisdom my parents remind me just about every month, even over summer: "You go to college to learn." In fact, my parents believe in this philosophy so intensely that they refused to buy me a television for my freshman dorm room because I should ideally be too busy studying to watch television. Thank God my roommate's parents are not as extreme.
However, all jokes aside, my parents are absolutely correct. We do go to college to learn and to be a student. It's true that for some there may be other reasons, such as to play a sport, to experience something new, to be a socialite or to simply gain a degree in order to further a career path, but at the end of the day when all is said and done, the most important things you can take away from these four years are an education and the memories of your crazy, insomniac roommate you met along the way. I can already see you know this because each of you has enrolled in an institution that fosters and nurtures education. You all have enrolled in a college where professors open their office doors and care for you as an individual. And because of that, I already see you're a strong competitor at this game.
In order to receive the most out of your education here on The Hill, please take advantage of what this intimate school has to offer. Build relationships with your professors, attend class and spend some time in your teachers' offices. Twenty years from now when you are reflecting on your college tenure, I'm fairly confident you will never regret studying too much for a test to scrape away an A at the end of the semester.
As you pick up this video game's remote control that guides your life from here on out, remember you have all the opportunity at your fingertips to make these years not only the best of your life but also the most productive. To be honest, I am not the video game type of guy, but I do know that in class as in a video game level, we all want to walk away with as many points possible, and both require hard work and dedication.
While you not only blaze your trail here at Saint Mary's College but also advance on to many levels through this video game that we call Life, I advise you to remember the deep words of Saint Francis of Assisi and "Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."