Dear Class of 2016

WOW! You. Did. It. You graduated from a prestigious liberal arts university and you should be so very, very proud. Phew! Take a minute and let that diploma sink in…

You’re probably feeling quite the mix of emotions right now. Somewhere between memories of the things you accomplished, experienced, saw, and heard while at the University of Richmond; the unbreakable friendships you’ve built; the recipes for random DHall concoctions; and anxious, nervous, excited guesses at what the future might hold for you. I know these mixed and often conflicting emotions can sometimes be overwhelming…

…but I’m here to let you in on a little secret. While you might have moments of feeling like college is over, you’ll never get it back, and you’re on your own now and forever…remember – you are a member of the Spider family. And this family is forever. The bond is strong. You’ve probably already felt the benefits of the wide-reaching, ever-changing web of Spider alumni and friends around the globe. Those who have come before you know. We just know. We know where you have been, where you are, and where you are capable of going. We have a bond and we always will.

How do I know this, you ask? Just 2 years ago I was in your shoes. My graduation weekend was a whirlwind, a complete blur, marred by tragedy. The University lost two inspiring alumni and dedicated staff members – and I lost two friends. But amidst that heartbreak, the Spider family came out to support in full force. I have never felt so much love and support.

Then, in a sudden moment, I realized that the love and support I felt that weekend exists at all times – you just have to seek it out. Spiders from coast to coast, continent to continent, are willing to chat, brainstorm, share a memory, assist in your journey – they’re just waiting to be asked.

However, there is a catch! I promise it is not a burdensome one, but rather a responsibility in which you will soon find great joy. As a part of this web, this family, you must pay it forward. The opportunities offered to you during your time on campus were made possible by the generosity of those who came before you. Their time and dedication to their alma mater paved roads and opened doors that changed the very course of your journey. I urge you to continue to take advantage and seek out the opportunities available to you as an alumnus/a of such a special place. But I also urge you to give back. Remember those who came before you. Remember those who come after you. You have the potential to impact their lives – to shape their journey – just as those before you did for you.

Welcome. Welcome to the Spider family. We are excited to have you join us. We are excited to see what greatness you will bring to the future of the University of Richmond.

From one Spider to another,
Kirsten Petrocelli, ’14

*Image Credit: Kim Lee Schmidt Photography

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