One Moment, Please (video)

Alyssa Limperis ’12 is speaking. She is the student speaker for Middlebury’s 2012 Commencement. Did you know that back in the day, every graduate delivered a speech at Commencement? President Liebowitz told us that just a few minutes ago—he does every year, and every year the audience chuckles appreciatively. Imagine that! Five hundred and fifty-seven speeches? Today, there’s just one (a tradition reinstituted in 2000, the year of the College’s bicentennial). And this year, the one selected is Alyssa Limperis.

She’s still speaking, and she is quite funny. She just got a big laugh when she surmised, while she’s not sure when the exact moment was that she no longer felt like her pre-Middlebury “me,” it could have been when she “started using words like quinoa, Croakies, and social entrepreneurship.”

And now she’s touching hearts—and minds. Adults are nodding. Some of the students—at least some of those without sunglasses—appear wistful. Alyssa just said: “Being a part of the Middlebury community meant so much more than being one of the lucky chosen 625. It meant contributing to the betterment of the whole.”

This is one of those moments at an annual occurrence that becomes a once-in-a-lifetime memory for many. An interesting paradox.

A hundred yards from where Alyssa speaks, a toddler unsteadily makes her way up the sloping hill toward Mead Chapel. The child’s mother (we assume), stands back, allowing the baby to take these wobbly yet determined steps toward, well, for the child, the unknown. Just down the hill, about a thousand other mothers and fathers are preparing to do the same thing.

Now, Alyssa seems to be coming to a conclusion. “We are ready—we are ready to take this Middlebury community and this extraordinary energy
elsewhere.”

It’s a lovely, wonderful speech. And it is ending. The moment is almost gone.

As one, 556 graduates stand and give one of their own, the 557th member of their class, a resounding ovation.

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