Class of 2020, we did it. We graduated from Mount Allison University. This is without a doubt a huge accomplishment — the product of many years of hard work, commitment, and resilience. It took a lot to get to where we are today. We immersed ourselves in a new environment, had to make new friends and try new things.
Orientation Week was our first test — a marathon of a week where we were introduced to Sackville and its people. While munching on a delectable cob of corn at the Corn Boil, we could only imagine what the next few years would look like: who we would surround ourselves with, what we would be studying, and where our adventures would take us. It’s hard to believe that just a few years later, we have crossed the finish line.
But this marathon was not like most. It was more of an obstacle course, with plenty of challenges to overcome: opportunities for us to not only learn about the world around us, but also about ourselves. They were what we needed to gather the knowledge, skills, passions, and values that we would need to confront the real world — to figure out our own recipe for meaning, as Dr. Christiana MacDougall put it in her Last Lecture to the class.
Some of these obstacles included taking new courses and pushing ourselves in our academics. We have all had that exam we were terrified to take or that paper that we didn’t think we would ever complete, but in the end overcame. We have taken on new roles in clubs and societies, discovered new interests, and shared our talents with our peers. We have also fought for what we believed was right, advocating for accessibility of education and for social justice for Mount Allison students, present, and future.
Throughout all of this, we have also had to deal with personal highs and lows and have stood alongside our friends as they dealt with theirs. Over the course of this marathon, we learned how to be individuals — taking responsibility over ourselves and our own actions, and learning to be independent from those who raised us.
Now that this marathon is over, we find ourselves in a world that is radically different than the one we started in. We are living through a public health crisis that may define an entire generation, having to overhaul our lifestyles and establish a ‘new normal’. We are also living through a time of significant social change, recognizing the compounding effect centuries of discrimination have had on marginalized groups of people in Canada and around the world. And to think that we are barely halfway through the year!
Despite this, 2020 does not simply represent an obstacle or a challenge. It represents a reckoning: an opportunity for us to put our knowledge, skills, passions, and values to the test in order to forge new meaning for ourselves as well as the society we live in — to show to the world what we’re made of and that we are not afraid to change the status quo.
We are well-equipped to answer Dr. MacDougall’s question of ‘who are we going to be now?’ not only on an individual level, but on a generational one as well.
We find ourselves on a precipice, and where we end up next will require us to work hard, persevere, and, above all, use our values as our compass. We have done amazing things at Mount Allison and we are well-equipped to maintain this momentum.
We are ready for 2020 and whatever comes next. Bring it on.
Nigel Verret (’20)
Class of 2020 President and Valedictorian