Advice for ’09

Quotes from the Class Day and Commencement speakers

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“We can finally burn the bumper sticker that says: ‘He who dies with the most toys wins.’ The truth is closer to the old Italian proverb that says: ‘At the end of the game, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.’ What really matters in the end is how you’ve played that game of life — that you’ve lived it with honor, integrity, and character, old-fashioned qualities that never go out of style whether you’re a fan of Ella Fitzgerald or Lady Gaga.”

– Katie Couric, CBS Evening News anchor and Class Day speaker

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“One of the great supporters of international students at Princeton, Shelby M.C. Davis [’58], likes to say that life is lived in thirds: learn, earn, and return. I agree with Mr. Davis, but I hope, I hope that the thirds of your life are not mutually exclusive. … [L]earning is a lifelong pursuit, an endeavor that will guide us as we earn, in all respects, and give back to our broader society and to Old Nassau.”

– Holger Staude ’09, valedictorian

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“The skills and traits that we strived to instill in you — critical thinking and writing, a finely tuned moral compass, a disciplined work ethic, a commitment to excellence in whatever you choose to do, compassion for those less privileged and a devotion to service — will serve you well whatever comes next. And as you consider the ways in which the world has changed, and imagine your place in it, we hope that your Princeton education will fuel your search for both purpose and meaning.”

– President Tilghman

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“To all of you who have enriched my life here to the point that on this day, I’ve reached the climax of apoplectic, furious, blind, and uncritical love for this grand institution whose beer tastes like beach-water and whose toilet paper feels like a day-old beard on my tuchis, I say this: If Princeton is a cult, then so be it. There is no one I would rather serve in a cult with than all of you out there, my brothers and sisters.”

– Jason Gilbert ’09, Class Day speaker

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“We should pause today and remember that what is ordinary at Princeton is in fact extraordinary. On Saturday, as we watched the Old Guard march and roll down Elm Drive in the P-rade, I thought to myself, ‘How are we ever going to live up to their example?’ College has taught me that we don’t have to look deep into the ranks of Princeton alumni to find these inspiring examples. We’ve actually been living with them for the past four years.”

– Grant Bermann ’09, class president, on Class Day

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“Here, people of Princeton, we did indeed learn wisdom, not by our own merits, too often sung and too loudly praised, nor by exams and theses, but by the faith in and the grace of unseen Glory. … With the journey having been begun, finish the race: Love justice, shun vice, and exhibit integrity to the republic and compassion to all men.”

– Stephen Hammer ’09, Latin salutatorian (translated from the Latin)

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“What you have accomplished, explored, and created since receiving that acceptance letter is yours, and no one word could ever truly describe that. By now, you might have received new letters to begin your next journey, and as you prepare to leave this orange bubble, take a minute to reflect on your new letter and all the letters yet to come in your life. Achievement does not come from these letters alone, but what you make of them.”

– Jackie Bello ’09, Class Day speaker

(Photos by Brian Wilson and Denise Applewhite, Princeton University Office of Communications)