Archive for May, 2003

The Friendly Confines

Friday, May 16th, 2003 | Daniel Peterson

Pop quiz. What do Chad Pennington, Peyton Manning, Danny Wuerrfel, Bobby Hoying and Brandon Roberts all have in common? If you said ‘They’ve all started NFL games at quarterback,” you’d be wrong. But that’s only because Brandon Roberts is still a senior here at Washington University… not to mention he’s a linebacker-one of the finest middle linebackers to ever walk the Hilltop.

Roberts is also a biomedical engineer with a 3.6 GPA and a boatload of pending medical school applications. So what do those NFL jocks and this pre-med braniac have in common?

The answer?

They have all been recipients of the HealthSouth Draddy award, which is given annually to the nation’s top scholar-athlete in collegiate football. It is often referred to as the “Academic Heisman,” and with good reason. The award’s criteria are 40 percent athletic, 40 percent academic and 20 percent community service and leadership. Along with the award comes a $25,000 fellowship for post-graduate study and recognition among the nation’s football elite.

Indeed, alongside Roberts at the head table of the star-studded, Dec. 10 award ceremony held in New York’s Waldorf-Astoria were Paul Tagliabue, Bud Selig, George Steinbrenner, Dan Marino, Ronnie Lott, Reggie White and Kellen Winslow-to name a few.

Fourteen collegiate football athletes were invited to the ceremony. Each of them was guaranteed to take home at least $18,000 in award money, but only one player’s name was called out to win the Draddy award.

When Roberts was announced as the winner, he was cool and calm as usual. Although he had no speech prepared, and he stood in front of a veritable “Who’s Who” of NFL personalities, he delivered.

And much like his football game, his speech was quick and hard-hitting.

“I thanked Washington University and my head Coach Larry Kindbom for providing me the opportunity to grow academically and athletically,” said Roberts. “That’s really all I remember. I don’t think it was much more than a few minutes.”

And although the room was full of top-notch Division I football coaches, including Ohio State’s Jim Tressel, Tennessee’s Phillip Fulmer, and Georgia’s Mark Richt, Roberts prefers to quote his favorite football coaching legend-Vince Lombardi.

“Football is a lot like life in that it teaches us that hard work, sacrifice, perseverance, selflessness, and competitive drive are the price that we all must pay in order to achieve our goals.”

As if all the accolades weren’t enough, Roberts was further honored during the halftime show of the Dec. 31 Sun Bowl. The segment showed the portion of the banquet when Roberts accepted the award, followed by a piece that Roberts taped at CBS studios the morning following the banquet. The feature ended by showing three highlights from his playing career and a statement of his future goals.

Roberts is the first-ever non-Division I player to be honored with the Draddy award, meaning that his achievements had to stand out that much more than the competition’s.

And indeed they did.

Roberts tallied 338 career tackles and 12.5 career sacks. He was a two-time first-team all-UAA selection and led a Bears defense that ranked in the top 20 nationally in each of his first three seasons. On top of his academic and athletic endeavors, Roberts is an active member of the campus community and the St. Louis area.

Are you ready for this list?

Roberts is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Harambee Christian Ministry, the Black Pre-Medicine Society, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Black Men Active in the Community, Big Brothers and Sisters of America, The Association of Black Students, Visions Gospel Choir, Vacation Bible School, Faith House and, oh yeah, the Wound Center back home at Akron General Hospital in Ohio.

His academic achievements include membership in the Golden-Boy International Society, the Ralph Bunche Scholar Award, the W.E.B. Du Bois Award and a position as a Chimes Junior Honorary Research Assistant.

All this from a football player that head coach Larry Kindbom says is, “the best Division III football player I’ve ever been around.” And Kindbom has seen a lot of players in his day (13 seasons at WU and 29 season overall in coaching), so that’s saying something.

A season-ending knee injury in week six of the 2002 season cut Roberts’ magnificent career at WU short, but perhaps his injured knee was all part of a bigger plan.

“I can remember being a little down trying to accept the possibility that 10 years of competitive football had probably come to an end,” said Roberts. “I remember [coach Kindbom] restating something that I really needed to hear at that time: ‘God never allows anything to happen to us that he knows we are unable to bear.’ I have always believed and lived by that statement which I think is the foundation for my perspective on life.”

Football taught Roberts perseverance, and it taught him about hard work. And now football is over. As his knee heals up, Roberts will graduate this May, and then he’ll get into a great medical school. Long after his knee is fully healed, he’ll become a successful doctor.

And, along the way, he’ll never face a challenge that he is unable to bear.

20 Questions with Brandon Roberts

Friday, May 16th, 2003 | Krystin Kopen
Bernell Dorrough

Q: Brandon, how do you feel about the fact that you’re “the big senior” on the team and that everyone seems to look up to you?

A: Being a senior, it has definitely been a big responsibility. I mean, I guess football is a pretty big sport on campus. I just want to enjoy my last year here.

Q: I hear that the coaches like the team to bond, so they stick you in pretty tight living space for a while. How has it been living with seven guys all crammed into a space meant for four people?

A: I mean, I’m used to it. In high school I went to a boarding school. But we’ve had a lot of good times. It has been a real good bonding week.

Q: You’ve played football for a long time, are there any pre-game rituals or superstitions that you believe bring you good luck?

A: I’m not really superstitious. Before kickoff though I will kneel down towards the goal post and say a quick prayer. I’ll ask God to keep us safe, and I’ll also ask that the best team win.

Q: Do you have any special foods that you try to eat a lot of, or foods that you try to avoid in order to keep in good shape?

A: Oh, not at all. I eat basically whatever I want. I try to work out hard in the off-season so that I’m able to do that.

Q: What positions have you played in your football career?

A: Early on I played running back and linebacker, but in high school I played offensive guard and defensive end. Now I’m playing linebacker again. I like linebacker most. I really like to hit people.

Q: Do you follow professional sports at all, and if so, what teams or players are your favorites?

A: I follow a lot of sports. That’s pretty much my life. I watch Sports Center every day. I watch it just whenever I can but I think I usually watch it late, probably at one or two in the morning. And I like pretty much any sports team near Cleveland, like the Indians, the Browns, and the Cavaliers.

Q: What do you plan to do after college?

A: I’m going to medical school. I think I want to take a year off though before going back to school. I’d like to do some type of service work. I’m looking for some type of volunteer or community based program.

Q: If you could go back and change anything about your previous years here, would you, and if so, what would you change?

A: I’ve enjoyed my experience here a lot. Overall, I’ve done really well and have had a lot of fun. I’ve also grown a lot as a person. So honestly, I’d say no. I wouldn’t do anything differently.

Q: You have one of the toughest majors at WU, biomedical engineering. How do you manage to balance all of your time?

A: It takes a lot of hard work. I really don’t get a lot of sleep during the school year. I usually am busy, go home, eat, study, and sleep. There’s no secret. It’s just a lot of hard work.

Q: Did you idolize anybody growing up?

A: My older brother, who is 25, and my father. I had great role models growing up at home. They are ordinary guys who just work hard so they are able to take care of their families.

Q: Can you tell me about your involvement in Harambee Christian Ministry?

A: I grew up in the church. I consider myself a spiritual person. I’ve also always been into gospel choir. My relationship with God has always been very important to me. It’s a really good ministry and it’s a good time. I’d just like to administer to those who don’t know Christ.

Q: Who’s your favorite boy band?

A: Hahaha…I don’t really like boy bands. My favorite R&B group is Jagged Edge and I like this guy called Musiq. I also like rap, but I don’t really have a favorite group.

Q: You’re an acknowledged good looking guy. Where do you like to take the ladies on dates?

A: I’m a very laid back Blockbuster-type of guy. I’m mostly a movies, dinner, laid back and chill type.

Q: If they were to create a senior superlative just for you, what would it be?

A: I think I would be “Most likely to have a beautiful wife.”

Q: What’s your favorite Disney movie?

A: It would definitely have to be Remember the Titans. Denzel Washington is such a great actor. And I guess, being a football player I could relate to it. Also, I know that playing football in high school can be really important to a city.

Q: I heard that you developed an unusual nickname your freshman year. Would you care to expand on that?

A: It’s “Obese.” My roommate the last two years gave it to me. I also do research at the medical school and I was working on a project working to understand what causes obesity. My roommate knew this so he started calling me “Obese.”

Q: What’s your favorite book?

A: I don’t really read a lot, but there is a Christian book that I like to read called “More than a Carpenter” by Joshua McDow. And also back in high school I enjoyed reading “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger.

The fab five: four years in the making

Friday, May 16th, 2003 | Nick Sreshta
Bernell Dorrough

Four years ago, they were just lowly freshman trying to adjust to college-life at this haven in the Midwest.

Now, they’re the leaders of the top-ranked basketball team in Division III.

Joel Parrott, Matt Tabash, Dustin Tylka, Chris Jeffries and Jarriot Rook… these five all entered WU in the fall of 1999, grew up together in the system, and now make-up the team’s starting lineup.

“Its been a lot of fun,” Tabash said. “Coming in, usually you don’t have a class with as many guys as we had. Being able to come up through the system, and spending all four years together, has been great from the basketball standpoint.”

As WU prepares to face the pressure of being the number one ranked team in the nation, these five know that the team’s fate rests in their hands.

“We are the leaders of this team… its up to us to push the others and help everyone contribute to the team,” Rook said. “We help them realize that its not just us, its also them. Knowing that the five of us can carry the weight on our shoulders even though we don’t have to, it shows how much this team has really come together.”

As these seniors now make up the starting team, keep in mind this wasn’t like the “fab-five” with Michigan in the early 90’s, where all five players started as freshmen. These guys have gone through the growing pains, learned from one another and in the end, their hard work has finally paid off.

“Freshman year, we’d finally get to play at the ends of games together… all five of us,” said Parrott. “Right now though, its not only us five, but there’s nine of us [seniors]. We’re all best friends, some of us live together… overall its been an amazing experience.”

Each of these players understandably played large roles last year, their first full year of playing together as the starting unit. Jeffries led the team in points and rebounds, with Rook right behind him in each of those categories as well as leading the team in blocks. Tabash was the team’s leader in assists, steals, and minutes played.

While these five have helped turn WU into a perennial contender, one cannot go through the hardships of leading a team without creating emotional bonds with one another. That chemistry is ever-present in these individuals.

“These guys have basically become my best friends in college,” said Rook. “I couldn’t imagine a better group of guys, these are life-long friendships, and I couldn’t imagine changing it for anything else in the world.”

“We’re really tight, we spend time during the summer visiting each other’s houses,” said Parrot. “Even our parents get along… its really awesome.”

It is understandably rare to have a starting lineup composed entirely of seniors. Many schools try to avoid this to prevent the disaster that occurs the following year after the team has graduated. However, these guys were the best players on this team when they were sophomores, which says a lot about how special they are when they’re on the floor together.

“We’ve been able to get really close of the court,” said Tabash. “I think that helps us elevate our performance on the court as well.”

As all things come to an end, this season will be the end of an era for WU when they bid goodbye to the players who have been the backbone of this team for the last three years.

However, as these five embark on their final season together, they all agree that there will be plenty of time to reminisce later.

“I’m sure it’ll be something that will probably hit us towards the end of the season,” said Tabash. “But right now, we’re just trying to stay focused and win a national championship.”

Rotello shines for the Bears

Friday, May 16th, 2003 | Matt Goldberg

Great athletes have trademarks-plays that define them. For Michael Jordan it was the slam dunk, for Mark McGwire it was the home run, and for Rebecca Rotello it was the thrown deep cross court winner.

The play was so deadly because most setters pass the ball to other attackers, but not Rotello. Instead, she would stun the other team and lob a shot right over the net.

“It was utterly frustrating for the opponents, and we often exchanged a ‘thumbs up’ and a smile when she scored on the play,” said coach Rich Luenemann.

Luenemann and Rotello are linked by more than thumbs up and smiles; they are connected in WU volleyball lore. In March of 1999, before Luenemann was even the coach at WU, he spotted Rotello at a camp for unsigned high school seniors.

“Her athleticism, especially her quickness, was the first thing I noticed,” said Luenemann. “Although she wasn’t used to running a quick offense such as the Bears run, I was confident she’d become a great setter in that type of system.”

Rotello came to WU and became Luenemann’s first recruit. Four years later Rotello was selected as the unanimous NCAA Division III player of the year and Luenemann was coaching the Bears in their second straight Final Four appearance.

Yet, there is more to Rebecca Rotello, or “Becs,” than one trademark play or one award.

“Volleyball has been a part of my life as long as I can remember,” Rotello said.

By the time she reached WU, she had developed into a very athletic setter. Rotello also grew as a volleyball player. She went from being a humble freshman into becoming the best player in the land.

“I don’t have a secret, it is just hard work… I take training very seriously and I think it pays off,” Rotello said.

This season, her final campaign at WU, Rotello, who does not know any of her statistics, netted an astonishing 1644 assists, or 83 percent of WU’s total assists (no other player had more than 100) on the season. She also slammed home 46 aces, second best on the squad, and chipped in with 253 kills.

“Becs is a highlight tape by herself… her ability to attack second balls, her knack of running the offense to perfection, the great plays she made that only an athlete of her ability could make, and her solo blocks all stand out,” Luenemann said.

Rotello has redefined the criteria by which future Bears setters will be judged. Luenemann said, “Becs embodies all the characteristics desirable in the ideal setter. She’s very athletic, exceptionally analytical, technically strong, even-tempered, and a natural leader.”

Rotello credits her teammates for giving her the opportunity to win the Player of the Year award.

“I think it is a culmination of the great season the team had… without teammates who worked hard beside me helped me achieve it… they earned it as much as I did,” she said.

Just as her statistics went through the stratosphere this season, so did Rotello’s leadership responsibility.

“I had the job placed on my shoulders,” she said, “A lot of people looked up to me on this team… my style was to lead by example, leading in activities, voicing opinions.”

By all accounts, the season that Rotello and the team had was one of the best exhibitions of volleyball in NCAA Division III history.

Luenemann said, “She’s certainly one of the primary reasons we were so successful this year. Setters determine attack patterns and who ultimately will be set, and Becs was excellent in doing so.”

“She evaluated and broke down opposing blocking schemes and then got the ball to the hitter who had the best chance of scoring. With our intricate and complementary offensive patterns that’s not an easy task, particularly when those decisions are made during a fast-paced rally,” said Luenemann.

However, the team came just short of reaching their ultimate goal, the national championship. Rotello has put the entire experience in perspective.

“We lost that match… we wanted the championship, and we did not succeed. Something about the loss still has not hit me… I am frustrated with the loss,” Rotello said.

While the Bears came up short, they showed why Rotello was the MVP of the team, the conference, and across Division III.

“She earned the respect of her teammates. After our loss to Whitewater in the finals, several players surrounded her and expressed their dismay at not ‘winning it for her’,” Luenemann said.

Rotello’s collegiate playing days are over, but her legacy will continue to live on at WU. She was the Michael Jordan of Division III volleyball. She dominated. She led by example.

“Becs is the best setter I’ve ever coached. Her athleticism, dedication, work ethic, leadership, coachability, and insights into the game made her the ideal setter,” said Luenemann. “Future Bear setters will often hear me say ‘This is how Becs did it’ or ‘Be like Becs’.”

The name game

Friday, May 16th, 2003 | Lisa Goldstein

I’ll be honest. I’ve been dreading writing this column for months already. Just because I didn’t want it to be another one of “those” columns. You know the type-there’s probably one sitting a couple inches away from mine. It’s the one that says, basically, “I can’t believe we’re graduating…it’s sad but exciting at the same time.”

So instead, I thought I’d go back in time and tell the story of how I met my freshman year roommate (the other “L. Goldstein”). And so it goes…

After many days of anxious waiting, I had finally received my dorm and roommate assignment from Washington University. Upon ripping open the letter, I read the following words:

“Your housing assignment is Room 1104 in Lien House. Your roommate’s name is: Laura Goldstein.”

My reaction was a mixture of disbelief and impatience. I immediately assumed that Residential Life had mistaken my first name for Laura, and thus roomed me with myself. As I tried to decide whether this would be such a bad thing after all, my eyes scanned down the page and I discovered my theory was wrong. This Laura Goldstein was from Virginia (not Chicago like myself), with a separate home address and phone number from my own.

Now I didn’t know what to think. Was this some kind of joke? My thoughts scattered as I tried to imagine my first meeting with this other Goldstein. Would we hate each other like the two long lost sisters from The Parent Trap did when they first met? Or would we bond over our common last name?

As the last days of our pre-college lives marched on, we exchanged emails and phone calls. We talked about who was bringing what, when we were arriving, even what type of music we liked. She seemed nice enough. But my worried pursued, as I wondered: what will happen when we actually get to school?

A month passed, and the day finally came for me to move to St. Louis. Strangely enough, we both moved our things in without meeting each other, since she went immediately to the Ozarks for the Pre-Orientation program Launch, while I stayed on campus for Student Life’s Freshman Press. This only left me more anxious. All I could do was study the flowered sheets on her bed, a picture of a little Australian Terrier on her wall, and the notebooks sitting on her desk, and try to piece together a picture of this stranger.

Finally, on the final day of Pre-Orientation, I came home to room 1104, put my keys in the door, and turned the lock, knowing in seconds I would meet my roommate for the next eight months. As I fumbled with my still new and tricky lock, my roommate opened the door from the inside. We saw each other, hugged, and immediately laughed over our nervousness of meeting one another.

After spending time together during Freshman Orientation, my worries slowly melted away, as I became more and more comfortable with Laura Goldstein, my roommate who was no longer a stranger. I gradually learned we had much more in common than our last names.

As we finish our final year at Washington University, I’m still glad that Residential Life perhaps thought it’d be funny to room together two people with the same last names. And ultimately, it’s the two Goldstein’s who got the last laugh: we’ve been roommates and best friends for four years.

‘Cafeteria food does not normally include a sushi bar’

Friday, May 16th, 2003 | Cindy Chang
Bernell Dorrough

As we embark on new adventures and exciting post-graduate plans, we will encounter both pleasant and harsh realities of the “real world.” For four years, we have lived under the shelter of the “Wash U bubble,” often not cognizant of the world around us or easily avoiding confrontation with worldly issues. This is not dismissing the fact that many of our peers have served the St. Louis community in profound and meaningful ways. Rather, it is simply acknowledging that at the end of the day, we can all return to our relatively comfortable lives within the walls of Washington University. Although it may be difficult, here are a few realities we must face:

Every multi-million dollar building complex cannot be completed in two months. Washington University starts construction projects at the frequency that most campuses cut their lawns. None of us can remember a day when there wasn’t at least one ten-foot wall on campus encircling our latest addition-the Knight Center, Small Group Housing, Lab Sciences Building, Whitaker Hall, and Olin Library Renovations, just to name a few. And if you don’t take careful notice of your surroundings on campus, a building will rise before you know it (have you seen the new building on the corner of Skinker and Forest Park?). More often than not, you’ll find that outside the walls of our campus, construction projects may proceed painstakingly slow and WU’s back-breaking pace simply parallels our ascent up the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

Cafeteria food does not normally include a sushi bar.

Like all college students, we have voiced our fair share of complaints concerning food on campus. Have you eaten at another campus or general cafeteria? The truth is, our food is ranked number one in the nation for a reason. While common cafeteria options include mac and cheese, mystery meats, and overcooked spinach, we feast on salmon salad sandwiches, paninis, a salad bar with three types of lettuce/mixed greens, and made-to-order omelets. If you don’t appreciate it now, just wait until your freezer is stocked with Budget Gourmet and Michalena’s.

There is no “free” parking ticket.

I don’t own a car, yet even I have taken advantage of the “free” parking ticket the Transportation Department grants for your first parking violation. If you are able to elude the ticketing enforcers for the remainder of the year, the first ticket magically disappears. However, if you aren’t so lucky, you must pay for your subsequent tickets as well as the first one. While this policy has been beneficial for many during the last four years, if you receive a parking ticket outside the jurisdiction of the Washington University Transportation Department, you must pay it or take legal action to challenge it. Otherwise, as a few of my friends have learned through experience, ignoring parking tickets may result in fines exceeding $200 (for a $5 ticket!) or even arrest warrants. (Note: You also cannot charge your fines to your student billing account).

The density of amazing people at WU far exceeds the national average.

I spent last summer in Washington, D.C., among the thousands of interns. Although it was not difficult to find individuals with impressive r‚sum‚s, it was far more arduous to meet people I wanted to befriend. My internship and residence kept me surrounded by a disproportionate number of lawyers and lawyer-wannabes, but it was then that I realized how unique the WU community is. Strangers hold doors open and smile in passing. People intellectually debate the war in Iraq one minute and play an intense game of Beirut the next. We compete with ourselves rather than one another. Unlike the previously stated realities, this notion is difficult to quantify because it is a connection that must be felt rather than simply observed. On this campus I have found the most incredible friends. People who challenge me to be grow and question who I am. Friends who remind me how to laugh and smile when I forget, forgive when I err, and defend me when I am wronged. These individuals have shaped how I see the world, and as we leave, I will miss the shelter of their friendships. Yet, wherever I go, I will always carry the spirit of their love, generosity, and kindness. I am already aware of how rare these friendships are, and unlike buildings, food, and parking tickets, they are a part of me that I can never leave behind.

Congratulations, Class of 2003!

Treasures we take with us

Friday, May 16th, 2003 | Laura Mendiola
Bernell Dorrough

It is that time of year when the reality of it all finally hits. We are graduating. Although I have known this for a while, I guess I had kept myself too busy to let it sink in. With all the fun senior week activities going on around us, it is hard to avoid the inevitable – we will be leaving the place we have called home for the past four years. I find myself asking, what do I remember when I think of my past four years here? The truth is I remember the faces – the faces which were at times happy, which were at times sad and even at times pretty wild and crazy. The faces that I saw everyday in the many facets of my experience here at Washington University are what will stay with me as I move on with my life. Behind those faces are the people that I grew to know and love and the people who made my time at college a great learning experience.

The great thing about college life is that everyone gets to have a unique experience. Each person decides to dedicate their time to what they find to be the most exciting for them, whether it be academics, research, extracurricular activities, fraternities and sororities, religious groups, a group of friends or anything else that drives you. Most of the time, we are able to find a combination of things that define our experience and that strengthen us throughout our journey. I was lucky enough to find true friends and was able to dedicate my time to things that I felt passionate about.

My past four years here may have been very different from yours, but there is one thing we have in common…the community that is WU. Was it just me, or did you get the feeling of a great community when you came to visit as a PF or when you came for the first time as a freshman and met your freshman floor and RA. There is something about this place that just makes you feel at home and there is something about the people here that builds the atmosphere of a true community. What is it that gave me and possibly you this feeling? I think it is the fact that we constantly learn from each other. Every person that we meet teaches us something new not only about themselves but about the world beyond WU. The diversity of cultures and personalities that comes together at a university is phenomenal, and I hope that each of you has taken the opportunity to expand your horizons.

As we continue on and move forward with our lives, we will each take with us fragments of those around us. Even though we may not immediately realize it, we have each left significant impressions on each other. I know that there are so many people here who have impacted my life and have taught me valuable lessons…these are the treasures that we take with us. It is these treasures that will help define who we are and will allow our time at WU to live on forever. This will always be a community that is close to our hearts and we will always have that bond that is WU. The university will also have a piece of us because we have all left our marks in the many things we have excelled in. I wish each of you fond remembrances of your times here, and I wish each of you best of luck in all that you do.

‘I will smile on my way’

Friday, May 16th, 2003 | Jason Green
Bernell Dorrough

When I was asked to write an article capturing my experience at Washington University I wanted to transcribe a testimonial about the euphoria I felt the first time I stepped on campus, and how the spirit of WU spoke to my inner child and that I immediately knew my time here would be well spent. I wanted to relate a sentimental tale of my how my first collegiate moments pulled me from the destitute state of homesickness and satiated me with WU’s sense of community. Well, that was what I wanted to do, but I hesitate to say that I remember the first time I stepped foot on campus, because honestly, I can’t say that I do. But maybe it is not because I am getting old and senile, though I am. Rather, perhaps I do not remember my first day on campus because I cannot remember or simply cannot relate to that person who first strode on campus in the summer of 1999.

What I remember very clearly are the experiences that have shaped the graduate I am today. A few weeks ago, I competed in the first annual Mr. Wash U Contest. My talent in the competition was spoken word, and near the close of my poem, I imparted, “As I leave these hallowed halls, I will smile on my way, with inner strength unparalleled from the interactions of each day.” The daily experi1ences are the treasures which I will carry with me as I leave. I still remember the feeling of failure after receiving my first Macro exam. But at the same time, I treasure the effort it took to achieve a position where I could appreciate the feeling of satisfaction and triumph after receiving my last. Concomitantly, I certainly recall my first all-night intellectual ‘talk.’ And as my stubbornness slowly turned to inquiry, I recognized that my perception of myself, others, and the issue being discussed had all been altered as a positive result of those around me. I have tagged and archived the best, worst, and in between moments of my four years. Though through much struggle, I am fortunate that my perspective has been challenged and enhanced, and that through these experiences I am better prepared for the vicissitudes of life.

Often I hear people talk about experience and experiences. Undoubtedly, in your post-undergraduate job or higher education search, you ran into the institutional appreciation of experience. On a form, or perhaps in a personal dialogue, interviewers inquire about your background to gauge your experience. Yet, to me, the more important question is not what you have done but how it affected you. I think Aldous Huxley put it best saying, “Experience . . . is a matter of sensibility and intuition, of seeing and hearing the significant things, of paying attention at the right moments, of understanding and coordinating. Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”

I think that message is particularly pertinent now as we prepare to leave the comfort and security of this place. It is probable, ok, inevitable, that tumultuous times lay ahead. But you cannot let the thick fog of uncertainty change your course without an alternative path to attain your goals. Difficulty and failure are fixed signs on the streets of life; yet, embrace the experiences you will endure, the growth you will undoubtedly undertake, and the person you will become. And in the end, you may not remember the person you once were, but I’m sure you’ll always remember and cherish the experience.

In our time together there have been too many good times to mark the beginning and in the same sentimental logic, far too many unforgettables to risk marking the end. This is certainly not goodbye but just another experience to clip and include in your scrapbook of life. I’ll close this message to the graduating class in the same manner I concluded my poem in the Mr. Wash U Contest: “Each year, humbled in your presence; for you are all truly amazin’, I wish the Class of ’03 luck; much love, your friend Jason.”

I’d like to be the person I thought I’d be…But I’m not

Friday, May 16th, 2003 | Allison Barrett
Bernell Dorrough

Saturday, April 26. 2:38 a.m.

Today’s been such a crazy day. My last class of my college career ended at 11, and I was happy, an unexpected but wonderful emotion. A few hours later at WILD, I felt out of place, out of touch, extremely old, and very sober. After reminiscing on the good things in college – connecting with a professor, meeting those who would become my lifelong friends – I remembered the bad too.

Now I’m thinking how much I’d like to be out of St. Louis and how appealing another city sounds, any city at all. I’m thinking how meeting new people seems strange-too little, too late-but being with the old people seems almost too nostalgic. I’m remembering how I compromised my morals in college then found them again later, how I thought I lost God but found Him again too. And how I’ve coasted by on some things then received more than I should have in return, and how I’ve poured my heart into other things then been rejected. And I’m remembering how I fell in love, and how I fell out of love, and how my friends are getting engaged, and how I’ve befriended drug dealers, devout Christians and anarchists. It seems so bittersweet to leave it all and enter into an entirely uncertain future – jobless, homeless and clueless.

It’s 3 a.m. now, and I want to go to bed and wake up when somebody’s figured out my plan for me, when I’ve been accepted to medical school and made peace with my enemies. I’d like to be the person I thought I’d be, in the place where I saw myself after college. But I’m not, so I’ll settle for a brief respite: for one day I’d like to wake up and not be shocked by the world. Unfortunately there is no bargaining involved: the world will always be a shock no matter what I offer God in return for a day free of mental anguish. Tomorrow, like always, nuclear war will peek around the corner, and there will be corrupt businessmen, alcoholics, pedophiles, abusive husbands and juvenile delinquents. Some enemies will never forgive and some friends will be lost without having the chance to say goodbye.

Clich‚s ahoy: I have too much hope to let that get me down. I know that I’ll fail sometimes, that my heart will be broken and my beliefs and myself attacked. And I’ll face the world anyway because if I don’t then I won’t have the opportunity to change it. Maybe it’s na‹ve to assume that my spirit will never be broken beyond the point of repair. Maybe it’s na‹ve to give my friends a thousand chances to redeem themselves when they do wrong, all the while thinking, “This time will be different.” Thorton Wilder once wrote, “Hope, like faith, is nothing if it is not courageous; it is nothing if it is not ridiculous.” I guess that makes me ridiculous.

Like all of us, I’ve experienced some bad things here – poor grades, lost friendships, failed plans. But I can’t forget the good either, like the laughter in Kathy Drury’s Exposition and Argumentation classes. Like watching the sunrise on the Brookings steps. Like painting the underpass, watching a friend star in a play, staying up until 5 a.m. freshman year just talking.

I overestimate the frustration I feel about leaving WU and, truthfully, being here has been worth any disappointment I felt. I’ve had my share of achievements for good grades and good writing, and I’ve had more than enough fun too. I’ve been taught how to survive without a master plan for my life, though that, like other lessons, was one I never asked to learn. While I was optimistic before coming to college, hope is now the chocolate of my life: I just can’t live without it. It’s no wonder that now I can look at my father’s calmness, despite losing his job not two months ago, and recognize that he and I share a philosophy: “Things will always get better.”

You could say, then, that my frustration is misplaced. I’m not so upset about being at a place in life where I didn’t expect to be. I’m really just sad to leave behind this wannabe-Gothic, construction-laden paradise. My fate could be worse. At least I’m not pushing a rock up a hill forever. But even then, as Albert Camus stated, “The rock is still rolling.”

Looking forward to Your 25th reunion

Friday, May 16th, 2003 | Edward E. Macias
Bernell Dorrough

Years from now – when you are jobs, miles, and many adventures away from today – in thinking back to your time at Washington University, what will you remember?

Figuring out where to go on your first day of classes? Learning to live with a roommate? Playing Frisbee in the Quad? Finding a new best friend? Having a wild time at WILD? Exploring an unfamiliar subject then making it your major? Getting to know classmates from nations all over the world? Going to a concert at the Pageant? Acting in a dramatic production? Mastering the art of Website construction? Discovering the best book you ever read? Attending an Assembly Series lecture? Working in a research lab? Writing an honors thesis? Rollerblading in Forest Park? Running for Student Union office? Writing for Student Life? Learning Persian? Learning Greek? Discu-ssing a novel with your favorite professor?

Your list will be particular to your own experience, and I hope it will include some general truths along with specific examples. I hope it will say that you learned how to think, to write, to solve problems, to work together with others from different backgrounds and perspectives and ways of doing things. I hope it will say that you gained knowledge and skills and also new ways of thinking about the world. And I hope it will say that your Arts & Sciences education has prepared the way for a life-long habit of learning, no matter what path you take after graduation.

Above all I hope your list will say that you have made some wonderful friendships here. At no other time in your life are you likely to have the same opportunity to work together with a small community of colleagues on subjects of mutual interest – the friendships that develop from this endeavor are at least as valuable and as permanent as the classroom experience itself.

When you look back from the vantage point, say, of your 25th Reunion, I hope all the memories on your list leave you with a great sense of accomplishment. Especially, I hope they will be as vivid and cherished in the remembering as they were in the making.

Wherever the future takes you, please keep in touch with us following graduation. Our Arts & Sciences alumni are very important to us, and we will follow your career with great interest. I send with you my very best wishes for a bright future, successful and interesting work, and most of all a lifetime of learning.