Jay Mehta, Class Speaker, 2013

Keep Doing You

 I’m really proud that we’ve all gathered here in celebration of my mother’s birthday. However, my mother is not the only family member I want to celebrate today. My family has come to include all of you, too. After all, we’ve grown together from being wee disconnected frosh to being seasoned seniors who have accomplished many of the goals that we had set out to in college. I realized earlier this week that I fell short on one key goal when I opened up my WOOLF outdoor orientation letter that I wrote after the trip to my senior self, and it ended with, “I hope you’re as cool when you read this as I want you to be!” … Thankfully, my personal goals have also grown to mirror our class’s demonstrated values. Today, I want to recognize those values that I’ve come to know over the past 4 years and state my hope that you all continuing carrying those same attitudes, that you all keep doing you, after graduation.

My Williams brothers and sisters, as the legendary Barry White aptly states in a voice far more sonorous than mine, “Your sweetness is my weakness.” You are amazing. I have loved attending your events and seeing you guys move your hips on stage to Bachata music and hearing you belt out renditions of Taylor Swift songs (both during a capella concerts as well as solo performances that I’d hear whenever I would walk past showers) and even, on occasion, seeing everything when the Springstreakers ran wild through the libraries because those were moments in which I was able to see you all, my family, release and fully express yourselves through activities you love.

Through flaunting your personality you enabled us, on the receiving end, to shout out those ever-­-so-­-meaningful words, “I see you, Anna Marrs!” or whoever we happened to see. This lack of anonymity, the inability to stay hidden at Williams, is central to the institution’s creed and is an extraordinary thing. We demonstrate it through procrastination “selfies” and Eph Compliments, through offering rooms to friends in the wake of hate crimes and having heart-­-to-­-hearts on Science Quad, through hearing both friends and strangers speak at Storytimes or You Are Not Alones, and through the simple day-­-to-­-day snack bar check-­-ins to make sure we’re living healthy lives; we recognize and respect one another as moral agents and keep each other in our minds’ eyes. I’ve found that it’s through this seeing that the most rewarding outcomes occur. rewarding outcomes occur.

Just a few days ago when our Mount Hope Dinner Dance was abruptly interrupted by the tornado, you all vitalized me by banding together and bringing one another up. You moved tables and chairs, shared asparagus and for some reason kept dumping more onto my plate, said more sincere “thank you’s” than I’ve ever heard at once, and brought an explosion of swag to the dance floor. You body rolled with the flow, even when the flow flooded every road between Mount Hope and Paresky. Together, we elevated the collective chi of Paresky and proved that we make this experience what it is. We are Williams.

While it seems like we only hear about the individualism and self-centeredness of the world at large, this world that we’ve created is connected and intimate. I’m hopeful for life after graduation because I don’t think I’ll ever cease finding energy to create, learn, and make better when I see you, my family, doing what you do.

I’ll end with a poem from one of my favorite Bollywood movies. The translation reads:

Open the door
Draw the curtains
The wind is all tied up
Let’s set it free

In celebration of our opening the door, and excited for what it will mean for the world. Class of 2013, I see you. Thank you for doing you.

Jay Mehta