To the Class of 2018,
Even as I prepare for a new year at St. Andrew's, I find myself thinking a lot about each of you as you move toward your transition to college. Thanks to each of you, your School's culture and momentum have never been stronger. You have given students, faculty, staff, and me great examples of student leadership, kindness, and integrity to build on in the new 2018-2019 year. We in turn hope we have provided you with the spirit and the habits of heart and mind to lead and flourish in college.
As you prepare to leave for your new communities, I wanted to share a few pieces of advice and encourage you to write to me periodically over the course of the year. Some of these reflections were probably part of my talk to you in early April, but perhaps they now seem more urgent and compelling.
You want to remember that the privilege and opportunity of a college education are rare. So many citizens of the world and of this country do not have access to the kind of educational experiences you now will have, but at times it is easy to take this glorious opportunity for granted. Think of it: you have the opportunity to spend four years of study, of reflection, of research, of discovery before the immediate issues of your career and future employment grow more pressing. You have the opportunity to work with scholars/professors who have great expertise and illumination to share. You have the opportunity to live with students who have aspirations, experiences, and goals that are inspiring and intriguing. You have the opportunity to continue and deepen your engagement with diversity, social justice, leadership, environmental stewardship, community service, athletics, the arts. You will have the opportunity both to explore new disciplines and topics and ultimately to choose a major, a decision that will lead to deep, intensive, and important exploration.
However, many students graduate without fully exploring or learning in these communities. Many students literally lose their way, retreating and quitting at the first signs of discouragement and failure: staring passively at computer screens, fading into an alcohol-drug culture that drains their spontaneity, creativity, integrity, and intention, accepting passivity and mediocrity when they have every opportunity to grow, develop, and flourish.
College is intended to be and must be different than St. Andrew's. This School will always be a second home for you, a community that will serve as a source of goodness, clarity, and hope. But now is the time to take that spirit of goodness, adventure, and commitment to the world. Your moral compass, commitment to human rights, honor, empathy, and intelligence will help you navigate college and life—not because college and life are like St. Andrew's, but precisely because these habits of mind and heart will enable you to live in and contribute to new and challenging environments.
If you become discouraged, lonely, confused, or uncertain, find strength, courage, spirit, and faith by working, fighting, playing, practicing harder. Draw from your reservoir of resilience, tenacity, and determination you learned from your family and St. Andrew's.
When you wish you were still at St. Andrew's or with your St. Andrew's friends, or with our faculty, intensify your search for the people on campus who awaken each day to make a difference, to study, play, and develop with all their hearts and minds. Those students are living right beside you and studying right next to you every single night. Those professors are waiting for you to express curiosity, commitment, and dedication by forming apprenticeships and attending office hours.
Most importantly, St. Andrew's has taught you to live in college as citizens and leaders. You understand that from day one you are responsible not only for the decisions you make, but also for the ways you honor the humanity of your campus.
You will be responsible for your own relationship with substances, but you are also responsible for the health and welfare of those with whom you live.
You are responsible for treating every person on campus with respect and dignity, but you are also responsible for taking action when you see human rights violations take place in your community.
You are responsible for following an enlightened process for consent, but you are also enlightened and active bystanders, ready to protect potential victims.
You are responsible for establishing and affirming your own concept of honor, but you also must be ready to protect a culture of trust and integrity at your college.
When you have settled into college life after a month or two, please write me a letter or email. I would love to hear how you are doing. We want to be sure we are doing brilliant work to prepare students like you to thrive and flourish in college and beyond.
St. Andrew's sends you love, faith, and ethos.
Daniel T. Roach, Jr.
Merrill M. Stenbeck Head of School