Investiture Address: Alden Adolph '11, Th'12 '17

June 10, 2017

Good morning and welcome to our distinguished guests, fellow Thayer graduates, faculty and staff, family, and friends!

The author John Steinbeck once wrote a letter of advice to his son about love. He wrote that the best kind of love can “release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.” I’ve spent nearly ten years completing degrees at Thayer, and by Steinbeck’s description, I’d say it’s love! It began as a whirlwind romance — staying up to the wee hours of the night writing my first programs in C for ENGS20, designing and building prototypes of “growing bikes” in ENGS21. Just think back to your first days in Couch Lab — everything about Thayer was new and exciting — all the math and science that (let’s be honest) we all loved in high school, but now were able to apply to solve real world problems along with peers who were creative and smart and driven. This excitement and fascination drew us into engineering, but it was Thayer that ultimately led us into a serious, stable commitment to becoming the best version of ourselves.

The faculty, staff, and our peers at Thayer have helped us to find and build our strengths, and they have given us courage to pursue novel ideas and seek opportunities beyond what we even had envisioned for ourselves. For me, this encouragement allowed me to find an amazing passion for research that I’m fortunate to be able to continue in my career studying snow physics — a path that certainly didn’t seem likely for this New Orleans native! Beyond our personal growth, Thayer has shaped us into better community members, staying late at a problem session to help a friend or proofreading important e-mails for officemates. Our experiences at Thayer have certainly made us wiser as well, not only because of the concepts we mastered, the innovations we developed, or the Sterling engines we built, but for all the failures along the way—the designs that didn’t work, the experiment results that were compromised, or the scathing reviews we got on a paper. We have learned from these failures. Learned to avoid them in the future, hopefully, but also learned to embrace them as a critical part of the process of growing.

We are incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to be students at Thayer. As we leave Hanover (or maybe stay for just one more degree??), it’s our responsibility to continue to improve upon these best versions of ourselves that Thayer has helped us become, and furthermore, to build our own communities that allow others to find the best within themselves. Thayer has continually challenged us to rise to the occasion of solving pressing issues facing humanity. Meeting these challenges is only possible when we work together to collectively promote strength, courage, goodness, and wisdom in one another. Taking a cue from Thayer, it appears this is best done with some free food and a little bit of love.

Congratulations fellow graduates! Thank you!