Hiram College

Opening Convocation 2017

AUGUST 31, 2017

Welcome home to Hiram.

If it doesn’t feel like home quite yet, it will soon enough. Indeed, as I meet alumni throughout the country, they almost always tell me that Hiram still feels like one of their homes. Each time they come back, they say there is that sigh of relief one gets when they walk into the arms of someone who loves them, accepts them, is always glad to see them.

How lucky we are to have a home like that.

When I push a little more to better understand why is Hiram home, so many of them answer with something like this:

Hiram was the place I found and started to become my best self.

That is what I wish…well…actually, what I expect of all of you.

As you embark on your journey of becoming your best self, think explicitly about three I’s ….this letter “I” that is.

First, starting today, think about the one or two things you are most inquisitive about….what is the thing you most want to explore, study, pick apart, understand? Often this is something pretty fundamental: what kind of person will I be now that I am living away from home? What part of myself will I want to explore more fully as a young adult? How will I get along with people I never met? What would it be like to travel to places I have only imagined or seen pictures of?

Secondly, what are you broadly interested in? This is different than “what do you want to be” since most can’t answer that question their first week of college. Are you broadly interested in working with animals? Putting things like machines or computers together? Working with numbers? Or talking with or helping others?

Finally, ask yourself what most inspires you? When are you most happy? Most at peace? Feeling true joy? Doing good work on a service-learning trip? Taking in the great outdoors at the field station or in another beautiful place that calls you? Listening to live music at a concert?

If you step back throughout your college journey and periodically ask yourselves those questions, then your own remarkable process of becoming will be marked by reflection and deliberation…it won’t just be something that happens to you as a matter of happenstance. More importantly, thinking about questions like this, starting to answer them, talking with friends and faculty about them helps you become your integrated self.

No matter what your best self ends up looking like and feeling like, being an integrated person, a whole person, a full person is something I wish for all of us.

Our home here at Hiram will help us find and become that person.

Again, welcome home to Hiram.