Office of Communications
2 East South Street
Galesburg, IL 61401-4999
June 05, 2010
Ms. Tchen I must begin by saying that I do appreciate your humor about the previous commencement speakers. So that way I don't have to make that joke. Unfortunately, that was half my speech.
Now, this part doesn't count as part of my speech, so President Taylor, please do not begin to run the clock yet. But I would first and foremost like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the opportunity to be here.
I know that Knox College sometimes gets a rap of being anti-religion, but I have felt at home perfectly here, and so I thank all of my students as well. I also would like to thank my mother, who, of course, without whom I could have not been here - both literally and figuratively speaking. I love her dearly and I appreciate her four years of support.
Last and certainly not least, I would like to thank my beautiful wife and future mother of my children, and - as I found out last week after taking a pregnancy test - that future will be a lot closer than I thought. [applause]
Please keep it quiet though. I haven't told my family yet, and they will be upset. [laughter] I'm going to start now.
As I began to prepare this speech I pondered how I would open. I thought that perhaps I would borrow the words of a former United States President and dear friend of Knox College, Abraham Lincoln. I would say, "One score and two years ago, I was born," and "Slavery is wrong for moral reasons."
But then I thought, perhaps I could make it more local, quoting instead the president of Knox College. "Hi. My name is Maurice McDavid, and I will be graduated from this fine institution in twenty-hundred and ten - in the year of our Lord." Thank you, Roger!
If there is one thing that I learned in my four years here at Knox, it is that Roger Taylor indeed graduated from this fine institution in nineteen-hundred and sixty-three. Fortunately, I have learned so much more than that.
I have learned how to write a check so that I could pay my tuition bill. I have also learned that there is no better time than college to be a black male from an impoverished, single parent household. Thank you, financial aid department.
I, of course, learned lots of academic things like how to speak Spanish, how to lesson plan, and unit plan, and lesson plan some more. Education majors, you know what I mean. And I learned how racism can be environmental. Brown maple trees and white oaks not getting along. So sad. Thank you, Konrad and Peter, and all of the faculty.
I learned that Knox College is a community and a family during our four years and beyond. Because of football I have 10 men that I can call my brothers. And, yes, Class of 2010, I am going to mention Aaron Juarez, no matter how much you all asked me not to, because he's a good friend. Especially you, Aaron. Aaron Juarez and I met during our Admitted Students Days our senior year of high school. From the first time I met Aaron, I thought to myself, what a...nice kid. Aaron, my wife said that I could not call you names from the pulpit. But, honestly, I know that Aaron would always have my back. And I still believe that today.
At that same Admitted Students Days, Sue Hulett, professor of political science, and I had a near hour-long conversation about politics, Christianity, and, more personally, my choice between Knox and a Bible College in St. Louis. Obviously she talked me into coming here. There was another man who made a major impact on that visit. Some call him coach, others Andy, but I call him "Notorious G-I-B!" That is Andy Gibbons, formally. And he has been very much a father-figure to me during my time here.
Though I think the icing on the cake was when I was walking down the street outside of Union Station in Chicago. I was wearing a Knox t-shirt and a guy in a shirt and tie took off his head phones and with excitement in his voice said, "You go to Knox?" I replied, "Yeah, I'm a sophomore." Now with even more excitement in his voice he said, "I went to Knox! Class of 2003!" We shook hands and went our separate ways, but that moment showed me something. Class of 2010, if I can be honest, if I look around, there are some faces that I did not know were in my class. But I do know who all of you are. You are Knox. Thank you students, staff, faculty, alums - and especially you, stranger alum guy.
I am almost done. I know there is a time limit, but I am a licensed minister at the United Pentecostal church and as some of you might know about preachers, time limits are most certainly more like time suggestions. I would like to share one more thing with you.
I learned that to whom much is given much is required. Thank you, Uncle Ben - that is Spiderman's uncle for those of you who are not fans. We have been given an extraordinary amount. Now we can't all be super heroes like Spiderman, but we can be heroes. Whatever you do with the rest of your life, strive to be somebody's hero. Be a mentor in your community. Build a house for someone in need. Grow a community garden. Change public policy for the better. Do research that positively affects our world. These are all things that I know you can do, because they are all things we have done as Knox students.
You may never see the results or know the full extent to which you have changed someone's life, but we must try.
While giving a tour for the admission office someone once asked me what it meant to "be Knox." I thought for a second and answered that the simplest definition is to be passionate about something, and oftentimes somethings. And so, Class of 2010, I implore you to continue your passion and let it lead to service. God bless and thank you.