When I think of Fletcher without all of our graduating students, it fills me with panic. What will the School be like without them? What will the Admissions Office do without Juanita and Ayako? Who will be my Information Session partner when Hanneke is gone? And how can Daniel, who stayed connected to the Office even when he took a job elsewhere, move on? And Mirza and Roxanne and Scott! And interviewers, such as Kevin and Stéphane, Trisha and Eirik, who brightened our days when they arrived for an interview! There are so many people who, for the past two years, have participated in the daily or weekly rhythms of our work lives, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them.
And yet, imagine we must. They’re on their way to something wonderful, carrying Fletcher’s mark wherever they go. We’ll miss them! But the whole idea behind admitting them to Fletcher in the first place is that they’ll soon leave. We’ll just need to adjust to their absence.
Adjusting is made easier by the fact that Fletcher students make their mark on the School and its staff, too. They create new clubs or activities, set a new high standard for constituency service on the Student Council (Nihal!), or broaden the perspective of the Admissions Committee. Once, not so long ago, there were no Los Fletcheros and there was no community ski trip. Now incoming students contact Admissions for the dates of the ski trip (about which we have no advance knowledge, I should add). The creators of those activities made their mark on the community, and they remain part of Fletcher as a result.
The reality is that we staff members don’t see most students daily, but it’s a day’s highlight to run into someone and get a quick update. And whether we see certain students or not, we know they’re out there. We see the conference agendas that include their names; we read their emails to the community. And then, when we feel we’re still only getting to know them, off they go into the world.
This year’s graduating class includes some of my favorite ever students. Every year’s graduating class includes some of my favorite ever students. Interacting with these wonderful people, and contributing in some very small way to the launch of their new careers, is the most satisfying aspect of my work. As a result, Commencement is truly a bittersweet event. It’s best to focus on the sweetness, made easier by the knowledge that the first-year students will now be the second-year students, and new first-years are on their way.
So, to all of this year’s MALD, MIB, MA, LLM, and PhD graduates: Congratulations! Thank you for everything you have done for Fletcher, inside or outside of the classroom! We’ll miss you — please stay in touch! We want to hear about all you do!