Students of the class of 2023, congratulations on your incredible accomplishments these past few years and on your commencement! And welcome to the next phase of your Yale experience.
As all of you look forward to what’s next, some of you may already know by heart that “time and change shall not avail to break the friendships formed at Yale.” For most of you, these words will come to mean more and more in the path ahead. As you graduate and join Yale’s more than 180,000 living alumni, you become part of a lifetime community of Yalies that strives to serve every sector of society around the world, much like Yale itself. Wherever you find us, we look forward to welcoming you into our alumni family and hope that you will always remember to reach out as you make your way on your journey.
In finishing your time on campus, you will likely be drawn to places far from Yale and given no shortage of opportunities and new adventures. Life will have a way of happening, too — many of you will build a life and a family with someone. You will each try to make time and space for your family and for the important work you will each be doing. Worthy causes nearest and dearest to where you then are in life will come calling. Time will seem to tick faster as you strive to be every bit as much the leader, the community member, the parent and the partner you know you can be.
And then every once in a while “through mem’ry’s haze,” Yale will enter your mind, whether reminded through a Yale Alumni Magazine issue, an upcoming reunion, an email or a fleeting memory. The way you see Yale at those moments will in all likelihood be familiar to and somehow different from the very best of the Yale that you remember. And you will hope that someone might do something to make sure that the Yale that gave so much to you will do the same for those who follow you.
But who is that someone? One may assume it is principally those who work day in and day out to do their very best for Yale in its hometown — our faculty and staff who we all see doing an incredible amount in support of the Yale student experience alongside their wider work. This is a big part of the story, but it is just one part.
As all of you look ahead to what’s next, I hope you spend time looking back. Remember the things that were especially distinct or uniquely Yale about your journeys on campus: the alumni-taught classes or college seminars with limited enrollments that you really wanted to take. The alumni speaker events where it was standing room only and where it still felt worth every moment you were there. The visiting instructors who shared with you not just their expertise and wisdom, but their nostalgia from when they were Yale students in your shoes. The contacts you made in your dream field with whom you spoke about what they do now, and about what they did when they were in New Haven. As you recall these memories, you may realize that just as the Yale experience is the result of those who work at Yale each day, it is every bit as much the result of its alumni giving freely of themselves for today’s Yale students.
Giving your time to Yale is to give nothing short of the chance that Yale might thrive in its fourth century by inspiring new waves of Yalies to make their positive ripples of influence throughout their lives. As you become our latest graduates and newest alumni, that which we call Yale now lives with you. What Yale becomes in its next chapter will in many ways be defined by the examples you set, the students whom you excite, the contributions to our world that you make and the ways you give of yourself to Yale, too. After all, the very founding of Yale itself can be credited in part to a group of enlightened Crimson alumni who had grown wary of what their alma mater had become, believed passionately in their vision of what Yale should be, and then worked tirelessly to bring it to life.
This graduation season, many of your fellow graduates will earn their degrees and be admitted to all their “rights and privileges.” As Yalies, you will be admitted to your degrees along with their “rights and responsibilities.” Among all the worthy responsibilities I know you will carry forward in this life, I hope you give to others the Yale that was given to you. Perhaps this will feel daunting. Finding the time for it, traveling to New Haven, believing that you can make an impact — all might overshadow the desire to give your time toward this cause.
But know as well that there are increasingly many ways to serve Yale that can work with the realities of your lives ahead, and that few things could do more for humanity — or more for the pursuit of Light and Truth — than doing your part to keep the Yale spirit strong for those who will one day follow in your footsteps.
Congratulations to you and all your fellow graduates, and welcome to the beginning of your lifelong Yale alumni journeys!
Brad Galiette ’08, ’12 MS, ’11 MBA is Secretary of the Yale College Class of 2008, Class Agent for the Yale SOM Class of 2011, a former member of each of the Yale Alumni Association Board of Governors and of the Alumni Fellow Nominating Committee, and a former Director of Finance for the News. In the days after commencement, Brad and his Yale College classmates will celebrate their 15th reunion milestone in Branford College.