To my fellow seniors: a love letter

Anika Besst, Editor in Chief

Believe it or not, we are here in our final days at Hamline. I’ll be honest. I don’t know what there is left to say that you have not already learned through everything you have experienced and overcome in these years that were uniquely unprecedented. 

So instead of leaving you with advice or reminiscing over fond memories, I want to share some of the insights I’ve learned about our class over the four years. 

But first, let me just say congratulations, my friends. We have made it! And we have made it through a lot. 

I don’t know about you, but I have anticipated this day for a while. It seems like such a huge step. We began our journey at Hamline years ago and it all seemed terrifying and exciting in its own way, and now after getting through everything we have faced, I’m wondering how we make this leap into this next world of unknowns?

I’ve heard so many people praise us for our strength, how we faced and overcame every challenge our class experienced. And I agree. Our class is undeniably strong. But in my opinion, strength is not the word for it. Strength was and is a given, but it wasn’t the secret ingredient that makes all of you as amazing as you are. 

I was a journalism and theatre major. I made my entire college experience about the value and power of storytelling. When I think of all of you, before even considering your strength, I think of all the stories I had the opportunity to hear through my work here at the Oracle.  

I think of the interviews I had with you about new organizations you were starting or about your favorite faculty members. The times I sat as my peers recounted devastating experiences. Or capturing and archiving the process of many influential events organized by student leaders. 

In each of these experiences, you offered your time, which, as college students, is truly a “time is money” situation. And you offered of yourselves. You shared with me your lived experiences and memories. You told me first-hand accounts of the good, bad, beautiful and ugly things our community has faced because you knew there was power in this act. 

My emails requesting an interview were always fulfilled. You always showed up and offered what you could to get the information out. (I cannot thank you enough for your dedication and willingness).  

After all those interviews and hearing all those stories, it is not your strength I am most amazed by. It is your vulnerability. Your vulnerability is your secret ingredient, your superpower. 

One of my professors once shared a famous TedTalk given by Brené Brown about vulnerability. The professor said she teaches it because of this quote: “The original definition of courage is to ‘tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.’” 

That courage is exemplified by all of you, the amazing humans I am honored to have had the opportunity to learn from, work and experience Hamline with. You actively choose to share your story with your full heart as an act of community care, as a way of supporting, informing and making this a better place for those around you. 

There are times that I wish these stories would not have had to be shared in the vulnerable, taxing ways they sometimes were. I wish that members of our community were better seen, supported and listened to from the beginning. I hope in these cases, the cases where members of our community had to give disproportionately of themselves, that we as a community can continue to learn where to step up, step back and always how to listen and believe. 

This superpower of vulnerability will not fade away. It is what we will continue to hold and carry with us into everything we do. 

It is why I know our class holds what the world will always need so desperately: people who are willing to lead with their hearts first. Recognizing the power of stories and perspectives before the esteems and titles.  For us, it was about how we could each be part of getting through it together to make the school we all fell in love with better for those to come. 

It has been an honor archiving your stories. I know you will make Hamline proud, you already have.