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May 23, 2009

Farewell Remarks of Nicholas Albano ’09

“Every single one of us will make profound and significant contributions to our world and to this society.”
Nicholas Albano ’09 delivered farewell remarks for the Class of 2009 at the 174th Commencement. He is the recipient of the George Wharton Pepper Prize, awarded to the senior who “most closely represents the Lafayette ideal.” Albano, of Cortlandt Manor, N.Y., graduated with a B.S. in biology.

Good afternoon, fellow classmates, faculty, staff, family, and friends. I am extremely humbled by the receipt of this award, and it is a great honor for me to be up here speaking in front of you. I would also like to send out a special thank you to my family, whose confidence and support have led me to be the person that you see before you.

Many times when we speak of the college experience, we attempt to define it, saying that it should be the best four years of your life or the most challenging four years of your life or the most fun four years of your life. I think we have been fortunate enough to attend an institution that has allowed us to define our own time here. Lafayette promotes academic excellence and achievement while also promoting individuality, creativity, and self-awareness. Over the last four years, we have grown as scholars, as people, and as responsible world citizens.

Through years of hard work; late-night study sessions; unintentional and, sometimes, embarrassing naps in the middle of the library (yeah, I was that guy); and numerous all-nighters spent huddled in the basement of Acopian; we have learned about ourselves. We now know – or are, at least, closer to understanding – how we learn best and how we think about things. We’ve learned how to study and how much to study (or not study, for that matter). We have learned to ask questions when we are uncertain and where to go to find the answers. What really matters is that we have developed into curious and skilled individuals who are capable of confronting and managing the intellectual challenges that will present themselves beyond life on College Hill.

To aid in our learning, Lafayette has provided us with great facilities, amazing resources, and an excellent faculty. While this is important and greatly appreciated, such fine resources can be found at many institutions (maybe with the exception of Lehigh). To an extent, your learning experience here is what you make of it. What has made these past four years so unique and special are the people – all of you, my classmates.

Through our interactions with each other and the relationships that we built, we learned so much about ourselves. Whether you are my best friend, someone I pass on the Quad, a Greek brother, or a fellow athlete, each and every one of you has affected me, and I hope that I have affected you. The times we spent waiting in line at Wawa for a late-night cup of mac and cheese. The times we spent boxing each other out for the last slice of pizza as Campus is closing. Though it may sound silly, these moments have helped shape our experience and who we have become.

Lafayette is a small community, and, as you know, there aren’t too many unfamiliar faces. This environment has allowed me to ask and answer some important questions about my life and myself. I have made some incredible friends here at Lafayette, but I have also screwed up a couple of great friendships. Because Lafayette is so small, we can’t avoid dealing with all kinds of people – even some that we just don’t get along with. These encounters force us to ask ourselves important questions. What do I like? Why does this person bother me? What kind of person am I, and what kind of person would I like to be? My experiences with each and every one of you have taught me how to understand myself and how to understand other people. All of you have helped me to answer and better understand the big questions.

I can also say that I have learned a great deal about the small things: the importance of returning a phone call or being somewhere on time or when you said you would be there; putting the books down and going out and having a catch on the Quad or playing a quick round of campus golf. None of these things are groundbreaking, but they are small details that have had a tremendous impact on my character.

Now, while some schools across the country will graduate tens of thousands in a single class, we are a graduating class of 555 individual students. I am proud to be a part of the Lafayette College graduating Class of 2009, because I can say with great honesty that while we are only 555 in number, every single one of us will make profound and significant contributions to our world and to this society. I am beyond excited today to wish all of you, my classmates, success, love, and happiness throughout the rest of your lives.

Congratulations, Class of 2009!

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