The Most Valuable Aspect

In a recent interview, I said, “I want my students, no matter what their major, to speak well, to write well, to think critically.”  All that is true, but I didn’t have sufficient time to continue my list of wishes for Trinity students, so I’ll try to do so subtly in my last “Short List” of this academic year.

It’s too late to list exciting opportunities ““ curricular and co-curricular ““ available on and off campus.  You’ve either sampled some of these or you haven’t.  It’s too late to nag about the accessibility of faculty and staff who choose to serve here partly because they welcome the expectation that they advise, guide and mentor students.  You’ve either developed relationships with some faculty and staff, realizing that this is  one of the most valuable aspects offered, or you haven’t bothered.

It’s even too late to go into my oft-repeated rant that on this campus the only diversity we don’t have is intellectual promise, that surrounding you here is remarkable diversity of economic, geographic, ethnic and spiritual backgrounds.  Immersion in such a varied community of intelligent individuals, many of whom are quite different from you, offers exceedingly rare opportunities to stretch, to grow, to evaluate your own views and values.  You’ve either relished that or managed to locate and spend all your time with people who view the world exactly as you do.

What a waste.  If you are about to graduate, to transfer, to step out awhile, or just to seek a low paying summer job, and you haven’t grasped all that’s available to you on this remarkable campus, I, for one, regret your loss.

Bright, articulate, assertive, generally open-minded individuals abound around this place, and, trust me on this one, you will rarely ““ if ever ““ enjoy that luxury again in this “the best of all possible worlds.”

Unless, of course, even if you’ve not fully benefited from your experiences here, you’ll recognize the loss; you’ll leave believing that no matter where you go or what you do, you can, sooner or later, try to recreate the climate of support and challenge that you experienced at this institution.

A succinct description of that climate appears in Trinity’s “Commitment to Excellence,” which reads in part, “The university strives to create an atmosphere in which basic civility and decency are respected, mutual respect and open communication are fostered, and sound religious faith and expression are encouraged.”

Even if you didn’t take advantage of all you might have ““ of all I wished for you ““ I’m still hoping you will strive to create such an environment, wherever you go, whatever you do.

I wish you Godspeed.

Coleen Grissom is an english professor.