Beyond the Valley

Joseph S. Wilson Jr., Class Speaker

Class of 2019, we have finally made it to graduation. And what a wild ride this journey has been. This is a time of celebration, so as we prepare to receive our diplomas and say “peace” to Williams, it is useful to reflect on our time here in the Purple Valley.

This picturesque place in the Berkshires has brought moments of happiness, such as seeing snow for the first time, and finally seeing all the snow melt away. We’ve had fun with friends in the library and Paresky, and have had the chance to get free food at many events.

Now, just as our time has been filled with joy, we have also experienced heartache and struggle. Many of us spent hours studying for an exam or writing a paper, just to find out we did not do as well. We’ve dedicated much time and effort for a sports game or recital, and it did not go in our favor. Some of us are far from home, unable to intervene when something unfortunate has transpired. Our mental and physical health has suffered due to the stress of life at Williams, and on top of it all, it seems as if the sun refuses to shine.

But, through it all (thanks be to God!), we have made it. So what happens now as we go into the world beyond the Purple Valley? What do we do with our experiences, hopes, and dreams? We play our tambourines.

The tambourine is a great instrument that has many functions, one being to help maintain the rhythm of a song. You can play with as little or as much creative flair as you want, and can even enhance the sound with a loud “fwap!”, cymbals ringing throughout the air.

I love playing the tambourine, and I’m always ready to strike a beat. While some may think that I came to Williams with my tambourine, in reality I only started playing it my junior year. Thus, something that I picked up only 2 years ago has defined my Williams experience and given me the ability to shake things up in my special way.

The same applies for all of us. While we have only been on this campus for a short time, the results of our actions have impacted this institutional memory. Our melodious rhythm has transformed our campus and beyond the valley in meaningful ways. With each hit of our tambourines, we disrupt spaces and bring awareness to issues. And with each ring of the cymbals, we use our experiences, knowledge, and passion to produce change.

So class, as we go beyond this valley, don’t forget your instrument. Continue to play your tambourine, as we each have something to say and offer. Through life’s up and downs, go out and let the world know, that we will continue to make some noise!