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PODCAST! Senior Speakers Tells Class of 2022 to embrace a clean slate

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NEW WILMINGTON, Pa.-- Westminster College marked the return to its first  commencement ceremony since 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic and social gathering guidelines forced the College to hold multiple ceremonies in 2020 and two ceremonies in 2021.

Senior speaker Jack Karson address more than 300 students who received their degrees at the 168th Commencement ceremony for Mother Fair.  Karson, an individual interdisciplinary major from New Wilmington, Pa., said that although the future is not known, he and his fellow classmates should embrace their tabula rasa—clean slate.  You can listen and listen to his speech or click here to watch the entire commencement and baccalaureate ceremonies produced by WCN's broadcast team.


Jack Karson (Class of 2022)

Jack Karson

My friends of the class of 2022, the experience we've shared together is one that we never could have predicted. And one in which we should take pride, I could stand here and give you a speech about resiliency or adaptability, how our foundation and the liberal arts enable us to deal with any situation, whether it be something small, like earning a foreign language credit or something greater like functioning as a human in the midst of a pandemic, how Titans will always figure out a way to thrive. Yes, I believe that. But in my personal battle with senior, right, is this last semester I've had countless late-night deep talks with friends, reflecting on what was, and what could have been-- seeing our circumstance with COVID 19 has led us to think about college in the past tense, even during our final semesters. So today I'd not only like to acknowledge our journey, but to embrace our outcomes and to anticipate our future's a possibility. One thousand three hundred fifty-six days ago for most of us graduating today, that was the first day of college classes, 1,356 days.

class of 222

We said goodbye to our families and for better or worse, hello to our new roommates, fresh from an orientation weekend, full of blood, sweat, tears, and ice breakers. It was go-time. I'll never forget my first class in Patterson hall with Dr. Randy Richardson. My college career began with Inquiry. Now my high school taught science, math, English, and history. So I had no idea what to expect. And of course, called a and you can imagine my confusion when Dr. Richardson began class by passing out blank sheets of paper to each student. And when I say blank, sheets of paper, I'm not referring to the syllabus. Dr. Richardson, it was your tabula rasa. He said tabula rasa means a clean slate. It was used most famously by John Locke in the late 17th century. To describe how a human brain is uninfluenced of earth and therefore shaped by experience, though, we had grown up through years of school.

class of 2022

Prior to that day, this was a chance to start fresh. Dr. Richardson told us that piece of paper is your time at Westminster College. Right now it's empty over the next four or so years. You'll fill it with the choices you made, the lessons you learned, the stories you hear and the people you love fill it well. And then we probably read the Allegory of the Cave or something now to a rule of 18-year-old kids with this newfound sense of freedom. This was equally exciting and terrifying. Think about the choices we had to make back then, what major did I choose? What clubs will I join? What sport should I play? Do I have enough time for a campus job? My body really affords another all-nighter. Should I join a story? Fraternity? Which sorority fraternity do I like her? Is she like playing like them? Does anyone like me? What am I gonna wear? How are we going to fill in the paper?

class of 222

The possibility is scary. No matter how cool we tried to act that than coming to college was uncharted territory for us all. Luckily, we chose Westminster, where the faculty treats us like family. Westminster, where we say hello to every familiar face Westminster, and where we support each other. By showing up to games, concerts, gallery shows and research presentations. Westminster, where the squirrels are friendly. And yes, everyone holds the door for all its quirks. We chose Westminster, where we never asked to walk alone. By now, we've all heard President Richardson tell the myth of Senior Terrace. If you walk across senior terrace alone without a faculty or staff member before commencement, you won't graduate. And it might be a bad time for me to say this, but I've walked across like bunch of times.

class of 2022

Walking across new your terrace. However, is about the only thing in four years that I did without a helping hand from the Westminster community. From research papers to internships from student affairs to championships, we lean on support from professors, staff, coaches, and alumni every step of the way through the brightest days and the darkest nights of college, they continued to guide us and love us. So on of this class, thank you. And we love Today. Just like 1,356 days ago, we stare into the eyes of possibility. And once again, it's exciting and it's terrifying more choices for us to make. What will I do? Where will I work? Where will I live? Will I have enough money? What about loans? Will I see my friends, my family, and my dog, how will I survive without the duck mashed potato bowl? We done.

class of 2022

Once again, we enter uncharted territory, a new tabula rasa, this time around, however, we need not fear the unknown. If our time together has taught us anything, it's that no matter the challenge, we are not alone. When you feel overwhelmed by your next journey, look up at your wall. What used to be your top Ross? Your blank slate is now a diploma that you earned during the world's most chaotic, discouraging, and uncertain time. Remember the people who helped you along the way and realize you still are not alone. It's easy to fear the future after college, especially with the daily news of oppression around the globe and injustice in our own communities. But when so many of us navigate life under evil sum, embrace the gift of choice. We are Westminster tightness. We run core possibility. We face the unknown and we help each other along the way. Today, we are ready with a new clean slate, ready for the choices we make, and the stories.

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