When I made the decision to come to Knox four years ago, I was thinking the same thing that I'm sure many of you were: "I want to be poor." And I assure you, Knox has helped me achieve that goal. As I stand here today, thousands of dollars in debt, I think about the day our class first descended upon the beautiful Mecca of midway between Peoria and the Quad Cities. Now, some might claim that Galesburg isn't the most enthralling city in the world, but I remember how our eyes lit up when we discovered the excitement that awaited us in Western Illinois: the local Wal-Mart was open 24 hours a day. It was just a hop, skip, and a drive away to cheap products, cheap fun, and cheap labor.
Of course, we were forced to find our fun elsewhere when we learned about Wal-Mart's unfortunate inclination toward world domination. Over the past four years, Knox has spent a great deal of time and effort instilling in us a higher consciousness, which would put us in a wonderful position if only a higher consciousness were marketable. Sadly, I'm afraid that evidence points to the contrary. We live in a country widespread with political corruption and corporate crime. Given the quality of our education, our capacity for critical thinking, and our potential for creative problem solving, I'll be the first to say that if we put our minds together, we've got what it takes to pull off the biggest corporate embezzlement scheme this country has ever seen. But strictly in terms of the so-called honest career options, a liberal arts education won't necessarily lead to riches.
You may ask yourself, how can this be? After all, this is the school that gave us Play Fair, an awkward, sweaty gathering of 300 strangers trying to make a good first impression. The school that gives us Flunk Day, a yearly excuse to skip class and celebrate in, let's say, joyful revelry. The school where Ann Taylor got her BA and her MRS and where Roger Taylor, class of 1963, got a really good story out of it. How could this school not lead to vast material success? The answer is that Knox never set post-collegiate material gains as one of its educational goals. That's just something admission counselors told your parents.
So the question, then, is what were we thinking? And if you don't have that question, there's a good chance your parents do. The truth is Knox has given us something that goes beyond the tools for success; first and foremost, our time at college has provided us with the knowledge that toothpaste can effectively cover up holes in drywall. But also, Knox has given us each other. It doesn't matter whether you spent your time in the field house playing sports, in CFA performing in concerts, or in Old Main pretending to be a vampire. It doesn't matter whether you spent your mealtime dining on gourmet food in the caf or whether you've been subsisting primarily on ramen noodles for the duration of your college career. No matter what you did, you've been part of the life of the college, part of our collective experience. Knox brought us together from all over the world, even if our class demographic suggests that 40 percent of the world resides in Chicago. Our geographic diversity is far less significant than our ideological diversity, and it's the latter that has made us better over the last four years.
As we move on and move away from each other, we'll be taking different paths. Some of us are off to grad school, some of us have found jobs, and others of us like Galesburg so much that we'll be sticking around another year. We might make money and we might not. What Knox taught us, though, was not how to hold a job but how to lead a fulfilling life. And although I do believe that we can all hold jobs, the Knox philosophy allows me to live happily in my current state of unemployment. When you leave today, remember that your education is never finished and that as long as you can learn, you will be happy.
I wish you all the best. Thank you very much.