• Sarah Puffer delivers her commencement speech.
    Sarah Puffer delivers her commencement speech.

Be here. Be present. Why? Because I want you to relish in this moment. We made it. But don’t dwell too long, because this is a passing moment in time. Our graduation comes to us as a stark symbol of change and transition.  It is neither the beginning, nor the end. It’s a beautiful moment, somewhere in the middle of our life courses.

We each have our own story that brought to us to Southwestern. That story is still part of us, and forever will be.  And we’ve each had a unique Southwestern experience, together contributing to a series of collective Be Southwestern moments. Throughout our four years here, our class has saved the name, seen the start of football, said good-bye to President Schrum and hello to President Burger. We’ve seen the transformation of Paideia, and we were part of the birth of Be Southwestern. We are Southwestern.

What is Southwestern? A community. Southwestern has taught me, and I hope us all, what it means to be a member of a community.  And what is great about this school, is that we don’t just learn these types of life lessons from our accomplished faculty, but we learn from each other. We are role models and mentors to one another here. We teach each other by the way we treat each other. I could speak of many times, my friends taught me what it means to live for each other, but I’ll speak to a couple other key moments.One day, my sophomore year, my advisor, Dr. Jensen, spent a Sunday afternoon bagging over 40 bags of soil and compost with me to take to the Boys and Girls Club Garden. Another time, I remember Officer Dillon unlocked Howry for me, just because I left my ice cream in the freezer there. And how can I forget, the time that I was running late to class and Shorty gave me a lift in his golf cart. These moments stick out to me as examples of community.

So, what I hope for us all is that we take the good and the bad and all the in between that we’ve experienced the past four years and use it to propel us forward at our own paces into new moments. Some of us are taking gap years, continuing our educations or starting careers. Some of us are still figuring it out. And that’s OK. Time is a funny, and we are not all running on the same clock. But we are all part of this moment. And this moment is part of all of us. Take advantage of the moment. Of each moment. For they all build on one another to create learning moments. That’s what Southwestern is: a 4 year lear long learning moment, that teaches us we’re never done learning and growing. This isn’t the beginning, this isn’t the end. We’re in the middle and we’re growing. Congratulations everyone. Enjoy it. Relish in it. We earned this.


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