Let the 90s date you, learn from the past

To be honest, I never would have imagined myself here four years ago, or probably even two. I’m not your student body president or valedictorian. I haven’t been leader of any organization on campus. My commitment to my fraternity has at times been called sporadic, and my school spirit is entirely motivated by free t-shirts. I am also not an English major despite my man-crush on Dr. Balbert, and I hardly know how to write an essay longer than one page anymore. Business majors, you know what I’m talking about.

My journey to where I’m standing today makes complete sense if you understand the steps that got me here. I am from a small town called Portola Valley in California, near Palo Alto and San Francisco. Some of you may not recognize me without my San Francisco Giants apparel that I wore for a month straight after we beat the Rangers. Sorry I’m not sorry, Texas. I found my way to Trinity based on a recommendation from a high school counselor and an affinity for everything Longhorns, Blue Bell and Tex-Mex that came from my mom’s side of the family.

I arrived at Trinity without a friend or even acquaintance on campus, but started calling Trinity “home” sometime around Thanksgiving break.  This is thanks to the class of 2014. I have made meaningful friendships with more members of the class of 2014 than I could count. These people with me here today have helped to shape and prepare me for life and what exists outside the Trinity bubble more than they could ever know.

Before I go into more detail about my class’s experience here I think I need to give you some context about the class of 2014. I read somewhere that we have been called the Internet generation. Our whole young adult lives, we have had access to all of the world’s information sitting in a large box in the family office and now in our pockets. While we have used it mostly for good, we have found more distractions and methods of procrastination than humanly possible. The class of 2014, in particular, has seen the fads of likealittle, Trinity Crushes, Facemash, and Tinder all sweep campus during our time here. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that each of these hit their peak in popularity during midterms or finals. Don’t worry, Mom and Dad; these strange and foreign words were wholesome study breaks. Just don’t Google them.

Another important thing about the class of 2014 is that most of us were born in 1991 or 1992 meaning we are 90s babies. We are the last generation that grew up with VHS Tapes and Mr. Rogers. We planned out our futures with games of MASH and learned science from Bill Nye. Because of that, I need to share a theory with you all that got me through college. Everything you need to know about school, dating and life can be learned by watching 90s TV shows.

“Boy Meets World,” “Fresh Prince,” “Saved By the Bell,” “Friends,” and many others have been the foundation of my advice up to this point, and I turned out okay, right? (Scan for nods of approval) I want to share some of the best advice these shows have given me and tell you about how they were applicable to my college experience. The first piece of advice is from my favorite show growing up, “Boy Meets World.” Aside from aphorisms such as “Life’s tough, get a helmet,” “Boy Meets World” taught me the most valuable lesson to my success at Trinity academically and eventually my employment following graduation. Teachers can be more than just teachers. When I got to Trinity, I remember visiting office hours before class even started because I was excited and possibly overeager to get into a particular class that was full. The professor of that class, Dr. Jacob Tingle, let me into his section and listened to my career goals. This turned out to be the smartest decision I’ve made in my time at Trinity. I went on to take four other classes from him and I was still a regular at his office hours last semester, a full year since he had been my professor. I can’t begin to thank Dr. Tingle for how much he has done for me in my time at Trinity and how much I have learned from him. He is a mentor whose guidance I cherish and that I know I will continue to seek long after I have left this place.

The second life lesson I learned from 90s TV that applies to Trinity comes from “Friends.” Have a person or group of people you can count on, and then actually let them be there for you, and vice versa. College is a challenge and life-defining time that can be a lot to handle some days. It’s those days where it is most important to put down everything and have a FIFA marathon loud enough to have TUPD called, or play a campus-wide game of Mario Kart with people running around paranoid for three days with balloons on their backpacks or to just relax and do acro yoga in the hallway using the walls for handstands.

This speech will most likely sound incredibly dated in 10 years, but I think that is how it should be. This is a snapshot of who we are now, barely over 20 years old and ready to take on the world. I want to leave all of you with one last piece of advice from “Boy Meets World” as we leave this place to begin the rest of our lives.

“Believe in yourselves. Dream. Try. Do good.”