Graduation is a time for celebration and nostalgia, and Wake Forest’s annual Senior Dinner has proven to be a favorite occasion for both. In late April members of the Class of 2012, who graduate May 21, raised their glasses to honor each other and their soon-to-be alma mater.
Four seniors offered toasts at the event, which has become a popular tradition sponsored by the Office of Campus Life and Leadership. Any member of the class can nominate themselves and/or a friend to deliver their toast before a panel, which then selects four students to present at the dinner.
Seniors Kristen Bryant, Keaton Lee, Meredith-Leigh Pleasants and Hamlin Wade made toasts, sharing reflections on their undergraduate career. Following are excerpts from their toasts. You can read the full text here.
“Poetically Correct” by Kristen Bryant
There are only so many times one can hear “memories” and “bittersweet” before our sentimental classmates begin to weep and our cynical brethren start to groan so I would rather just set the tone of my toast by saying: We have come so far: my how we’ve grown. Just take a second. Close your eyes and think of yourself freshman year. The major you thought you would have, the friends you thought you would keep, all the problems you thought were titanic, the little things that sent you into a panic. Now open your eyes and look who is around you. I think we should all say Thank You. Who wudda thunk we would all end up here. Raising our glasses and pushing back tears. Who could’ve foreseen all the places we’ve seen from Vietnam to Senegal to everywhere in between. According to the Mayans the world’s ending this year. You know what I say, Bring it on! I have no fear because if I survived Wake Forest I am quite positive I can survive an apocalypse. To the Class of 2012, let us begin our prolonged goodbye. Cherishing each moment that will soon be images in our past. Never forgetting that we are one special class. As we hit the ground running, leaving our alma mater in the dust, let’s toast to the future … to us!
“Senior Toast” by Keaton Lee
As we reflect upon the past, I think it’s appropriate to think about the often forgotten second verse of our fight song. After all, I think it almost perfectly captures our college experience and our thoughts right now:
“As frosh we adored her,
As sophs we explored her,
And carved our names upon her ancient walls.
As juniors patrol her,
As seniors extol her,
And weep fore’er to leave her sacred halls.”
Now please don’t start crying, cause then I’m going to start crying and it’s just going to be a huge disaster. In fact, I would encourage us to do the exact opposite. We shouldn’t weep. We shouldn’t be sad. We should be the happiest we have ever been in our entire lives. We have accomplished so much more than we even realize, and we’re not about to stop now. We have changed each other’s lives, and soon, we will take that enormous step outside of the bubble and into the real world. Remember where you’ve come from, and using everything that you’ve learned both inside and outside of the Wake Forest classroom, never pursue your dream with anything other than your utmost dedication and deepest passion. As my dear friend said: “Departure. Arrival. Transition. With your best foot forward, walk on, heads held high and hearts full of joy, tempered by an indelible nostalgia.” And so, as spirits are high and opportunity is among us, I invite you to raise your glass. To ladies, and to gentlemen. To the future doctors, lawyers, businesspeople, and artists. To politicians. To poets. To academics, and to athletes. To our brave soldiers, and to the dedicated educators. To brotherhood, and to sisterhood. To bravery through adversity. To the pursuit of maturity. To achievement, and to understanding. To faith and to passion. To our never-ending dedication to one another. To hope, and to strength. To surpassed expectations. To success, punctuated by moments of observation and reflection. To you. To Old, to Gold, and to Black. To this, the finest class, in a class of its own. To the class of 2012.
“Senior Toast” by Meredith-Leigh Pleasants
“Live in fragments no longer, connect.” When we came to Wake Forest, this quote adorned the back of our orientation t-shirts. Most of us probably can’t squeeze into that tiny shirt any longer or don’t even remember that t-shirt at all. But despite the shirt shrinking and disappearing, the message has grown with us. Much of our college experience and connection has been shaped by social media. When we came to Wake many of us joined the class of 2012 Facebook group and frantically searched for our unknown roommates, suitemates, and future classmates. Over the years we win-stalked hookups (don’t act like you haven’t), we mentioned our most guilty accomplices and hashtagged our biggest embarrassments. But looking back at college, my greatest connections weren’t made on my Timeline. They were found while swaying at shag on the mag with my best friends, during initiation into my sorority, while in rolling the quad, and sledding on Davis field when it snowed. They were made during that glorious moment when we beat Duke to secure our spot as #1 in the nation, and in the chilly moments waiting for the light to pass during Lighting of the Quad. They are in moments that defined me. Each of us carry our moments, like photos on our wall that remind us of the good times we shared and the hard times we survived. I don’t think I could post or even take an Instagram photo that could truly capture the beauty of Wait Chapel on a sunny spring day or the feeling of returning to Wake Forest’s gates after a long summer or semester travelling abroad, that feeling of coming home to our beloved campus. We came to Wake Forest as fragments, some homesick, some sick of home and desperate for independence. We found best friends and ourselves at Mother, so Dear. Although, our next adventure is exciting and unknown, we carry with us these moments, these friends, and the spirit of Wake Forest that will connect us for a lifetime.
“Senior Toast” by Hamlin Wade
To give a proper toast, one must know who is to be toasted. Tonight, it seems as though there are several possibilities that emerge as potential subjects. Of course, we could raise a glass to our alma mater, Wake Forest. We could extol her for the opportunities that she has provided and marvel at the wondrous experiences which we have lived and re-lived over the last four years of our collegiate days. Or, perhaps we could echo in a chorus of cheers to our professors and supervisors, the individuals that have molded us during some of the most formative years of our young lives. As we walk off of this campus and into the next chapters of our life stories, it is certain that we will have these mentors to thank for our successes. They have raised us and nurtured us. They have challenged us to try new things and to push the limits in leadership and research. However, there is yet a third potential subject that is worthy of our praise this evening, that being every last one of us, the Class of 2012. After all, we are the backbone of this institution which we have come to call home. We provided the hands and feet which our campus embraced. We provided the minds and souls and spirits with which our professors, staff members and administrators interacted. We provided the strength and the passion and the dedication which has made Wake Forest such a magnificent place in which to learn. Tonight is a night to remember our time here at our Mother, so dear. Tonight is a time to reflect on where we came from and dream of where we will one day go. We have weathered the ups and downs, the good days and the bad and we have been changed for the better. We have made friendships that will last a lifetime and we have developed into the future leaders of our world. So, please join me in raising a glass to us. As we disperse across the state, the country and the world, let us always remember that we will have nights like these — moments framed in our memories forever. And let us remember that no matter where we go from here, we will always and forever be bound together as Demon Deacons from the Class of 2012.