Here at Muhlenberg, you have all been given an extraordinary opportunity. You can mold the culture in which you live, because the Muhlenberg community is shaped by its members. Each of you here today will make this College the place it is and will become. You all come to us with beliefs about what is right and wrong, moral and immoral. The College also has values that it espouses and it has rules by which each member of the community must abide so that we can live together as a society. We are a caring community. I ask each of you here to realize that your actions affect everyone around you and, whatever you choose to do, your actions will have outcomes, positive or negative.
You are all adults. How did you move from adolescence to adulthood so quickly? It wasn't because you turned 18-that does not make you an adult. Being able to vote or go to war does not make you an adult. Staying out all night does not make you an adult. Being responsible is what makes you an adult and you are responsible for your actions. Everything you do, today, tomorrow, next week or next year, will be part of your life story.
Acting responsibly requires a great deal of commitment. I urge you not to let others make decisions for you. Listen carefully to what they say, heed advice you believe is wise, but understand that ultimately you must be committed to each action you take, because you will have to live with the consequences, good or bad.
What is your job as a responsible adult? You must make your own choices about your academic development. This is your education-not your mom's, not your dad's and not grandma's. Ultimately, you must decide which courses to take, you must decide how much you will study, and you must decide whether you will be prepared for class. No one can do this for you. We have a group of faculty members here at the College who are the best of the best. They assume responsibility for teaching our students and they work hard to make sure their classes are engaging and their students are learning. As students, you are responsible for coming to class prepared, participating in discussions and questioning ideas and principles. If you do not understand, it is your responsibility, to yourself and your intellectual development, to speak up. It is the professor's responsibility to hear you and offer assistance. However, if you do not take responsibility for your own contribution to this process, even the best teacher in the world cannot instill in you the joy of learning.