It seems like a hundred years ago, and yet almost yesterday.
On a hot June day back in 1986, I walked through Finney Chapel along with just less than 100 other graduates to-be.
It is interesting in looking back where we all would go from there. One classmate to Yale, two to Wesleyan, two to UC Santa Cruz. Several enlisted in the military, and saw more of the world in a few years than many of their classmates would see their whole lives. More than a handful remained in Oberlin either to start jobs, families, or continue their education at LCCC (the regional community college) or enrolled at Oberlin College. My own path was rather circuitous, with a brief stop at a state university in Pennsylvania (ostensibly to play soccer), an intensive summer session at Lorain County Community College (where I rode a borrowed bicycle the approximate 15 miles each way with a clean shirt in my book bag), and managed to pack a full semester's worth of credits into 6 weeks, and finally the University of Oregon, where I completed my undergraduate degree in 1990.
Many of us lost touch, whether intentionally or not, we drifted in the currents of our own lives, plotting our own directions. And looking back now, nearly 36 years later, while I am proud to be a Man of Oregon, I am still at heart a Northern Youth.
Commencement, as it pertains to graduation has a goofy double-meaning. Whether you are graduating from high school or university, it is the end. But of course it is also a beginning.
For me, it was when I realized that the world was out there, and now would be my chance to see it. While attending university thousands of miles away on the opposite side of the country sounded adventurous to some, my destination was still farther. Japan, Portugal, Finland, and the United Kingdom would all provide a home and an opportunity to work. And it was more than once that I wondered, what was I, a Northern Youth doing so far from home? But I have come to realize that home is where you make it, and always shaped by where you come from.
So to the class of 2022, as you get ready to take your turn at the wheel, I wish you success, and the courage to persevere when that success feels illusive. Take it from this Northern Youth - you will get to where you're going.