The following is a letter to the class of 2011 from former Opinions Editor Kris Miranda '09. Kris is now in the process of earning a M.A from The University of New Mexico in Philosophy.
In spring of 2008, facing my impending senior year, I wrote for the Echo this “open letter” to the class of 2011:
You’re really quite remarkable, aren’t you? I’m not being sarcastic. Look at you! A bona fide magician who tonight wraps up a series of three shows. A foot-and-fist whirlwind who’s established a martial arts outpost that a worldwide organization officially recognizes even if for some reason the College doesn’t. A Californian ice skater whose uncommon grace in the rink is matched by the deftness of the prose on her insideColby blog. An assistant editor on this paper who teaches his elders something new every time he writes a column and makes me feel entirely inadequate in my Philosophy of Religion class. I could go on. There are some folks I went to Greece with over JanPlan who—OK, you get the point.
That some of you have made such a large impression is, in part, probably because Colby itself is in a transition process that has made possible certain venues for expression that older and past classes didn’t have the same access to, and because of the efforts of upperclassmen who’ve fought for the ascendance of clubs like the Musicians Alliance. And that you’re full of striking souls is, of course, hardly unique to your class.
But there’s been something of magic in seeing you take your first college steps—and in several cases, walk on water or leap over tall buildings in a single bound—throughout this past year. Whatever else may be said about Admissions, clearly it’s doing something right: it’s helping to put together a campus full of extraordinary individuals. On a purely aesthetic level, I’ve taken great interest and a certain amount of joy in this. Partly I guess it’s the element of novelty; I had similar thoughts last year and I’ll probably have them next year. But that doesn’t make you any less interesting, so, thank you.
A few friends and I have observed that first-years are likely to move in large “packs.” We were there, once. We were that crowd making things slightly inconvenient for people behind us, awkwardly cramming around one dining hall table, filling a dorm lounge and being louder than necessary. Those were fun days. I frequently miss them. What happened? I’m not sure, really. But people I assumed would become lifelong friends I rarely talk to now; even the ones I’m still relatively close to I don’t see as often as I’d like. Some of us have found new cliques; some of us wander between different ones; some of us hide in seminar rooms, RA offices or labs, immersing ourselves into majors that are kicking our asses; some of us have become alarmingly self-important and write in first person plural for a publication that practically replaced some of our friends last semester. Could it be that we just got too busy for the people who made our first year here so much fun?
So, Class of 2011, I want to say, don’t let this happen to you. Don’t become too busy for your friends. But as you get even better at the things I’ve noticed and find new things you’re good at, as you get deeper into your majors and sell more of your soul to different clubs and orgs, it might be impossible to follow that advice. And some drifting apart is probably natural. You’ll probably make friends you won’t keep; you may lose friends you have now.
But (hell with it) try not to. Try to hold onto the uniquely first-year enthusiasm and zeal that you currently have for, well, everything—but somehow avoid burning out by second semester of junior year. Try to hold onto each other—but somehow avoid social drama reminiscent of high school, aggravated by the increasing arrogance of the college student. Try not to let anything about this place disillusion you; rather rise above it and fight to improve it.
It’s entirely possible that I’m the only 09er with these thoughts. I do love this place. I do value the friends I have, and I don’t regret for a moment the hours I’ve spent in the Echo office. But there’s undeniably a spark to that first year. Maybe it becomes an awesome inferno, but still, sparks are nice. An inferno makes me gape in wonder, but a spark makes me smile. Is there any way to have both? Class of 2011, I will watch you with interest next year, looking for the answer.
I never did write a follow-up, but maybe that’s for the best. Because now you’re seniors, and two years after my own graduation, writing this as I finish my first year of grad school, I get to ask: Well? How’d it go?