Jasper Houston ’18, of Yarmouth, Maine, delivered greetings from the state to his classmates and their families at Bowdoin’s 213th Commencement, held May 26, 2018.
Hello, friends and family — and thank you for joining us on this beautiful day. To those from away, I’d like to warmly welcome you to Maine.
As some of you may know, Maine’s state motto is “Dirigo,” Latin for “I lead” or “I guide.”
While you’re here, I hope you take some time to explore. Each one of you has a guide sitting up here to show you the way. As much as some might say, “You can’t get there from here,” I’ve found that to usually not be the case.
As former Maine Governor and current U.S. Senator Angus King reminded us as we matriculated, our alumnus Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain led the charge at Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg. Now, over 150 years later, Bowdoin students lead the charge down the hill for donuts at Frosty’s at 4 a.m. after a long night of work.
Maine means many different things to everyone here, and over our four years here we’ve led ourselves in many different directions.
For me, Maine is the mountains — Old Speck, Katahdin, Tumbledown, Cadillac.
Maine is a rocky coastline dotted with lighthouses, sheltered harbors, and sandy beaches — Popham and Higgins.
Maine is crisp fall air and foliage, frigid snowy winters, springs that never seem to arrive, and the most beautiful summers you’ll ever see.
In Maine, if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.
Maine is trips down to Freeport and Portland for a taste of something just a bit different than campus.
Maine is its lakes — Moosehead, Sebago — and its rivers — the Kennebec, the Penobscot, and the mighty Androscoggin right here in Brunswick.
Our journey through Bowdoin can be likened to a many-day canoe expedition through these waterways. Some days, we dip our paddles and our crafts cut through smooth, glassy lakes with ease. Other days, we battle fierce headwinds and have to fight for every inch of progress.
There are long stretches in which we can sit back and relax as we drift down lazy rivers, occasionally interrupted by an exciting stretch of turbulent rapids that try to disrupt us.
There have even been times when we had to carry our boats for miles to get from one stretch of water to the next, portaging over rough, uneven terrain. However, we now find ourselves approaching the take-out, loading the boat on the car, and driving away from this expedition.
As we lead ourselves away from Bowdoin, it is important to remember that Maine is a home. For me and a few others here, Maine has been home for as long as we can remember. For others, Maine became home just four years ago.
Wherever life takes you after graduation, I hope you guide yourselves back here at some point, as Maine is a home that will always welcome you with wide arms and an open heart.