College is beautiful because the community it creates can exist under no other circumstances. When students come together at Hillsdale, the campus initiates them into a wonderfully new environment — each class brings a sort of communal rebirth that is allowed ever so rarely in our lifetimes. Each year, Hillsdale grants us the opportunity and privilege to make it our own. Just as the graduating class before ours shaped the college, so we too shaped it. I hope that the classes to come will treat it with the love and care which I hope can be recognized in myself and my peers.
Each class lends the college its own characteristics, and each student makes an immediate and visible difference, forming a place that is familiar yet ever-changing. While many alumni come back and feel the changes that have taken place in their absence, they feel familiarity and comfort as well.
We as students add to a place only we can truly understand. Outsiders can attempt to understand; we all see the wandering parents, ever so eager to catch a glimpse of what exactly it is that we are undertaking. We each know a hometown friend that searched for Hillsdale on Google in hopes of finding out what exactly it is that we keep talking about when we go back. But these people can’t grasp it in the same way that we can, just as Kansans could not quite understand what it’s like to grow up in California, no matter how hard they might try.
Without entering into Hillsdale completely and taking part in its traditions, its history, and its future, one will never understand it fully. Whether we have enjoyed our time here or not, our time here will never leave us. Hillsdale impacted us permanently. This impact is something that only we are privy to, it is something that we will enjoy for the rest of our lives, something that we can come back to in the future and see others obtaining for themselves.
When we go out into the world, our experiences here will be shared and understood with those who have also come from this place. When you meet an alumnus who graduated long ago, you will share a special connection through the Hillsdale tradition. You are both from Hillsdale, you both can revel in and enjoy that fact even if the rest of you have as much in common as oak trees and moon rocks.
At Hillsdale, we become something more than ourselves. We are also the school in which we are educated, the dorm where we met our freshman year roommate, the dining hall where plans were hatched and rumors dispersed, and the classroom where we vigilantly fought the battle against sleep (while we may have lost many battles, we have now won the war). This school is now part of who we are, and who we will continue to be.
Hillsdale in particular has this effect on its graduates. This institution worked for nearly two centuries to set itself apart from other places of higher education. Other schools possess their own unique traits as well, but presently few are as truly unique as this place. While some resent this fact, we must appreciate it nonetheless. For many of us it is something sweet, but even if we think it bitter there is still good to be found in our singularity. I, for one, am exceedingly grateful for the opportunity and experience this place provided me. I hope that you are as well, for it is something that is now inescapable, no matter how hard we may try. Take the time, look back, and hold it all again dearly before you must let it go.
We are all Hillsdalians now, and that’s something beautiful.
Mr. Robson is a senior studying economics.