Appearance faulty way to judge graduates

Published 8:25 pm Friday, June 3, 2011

Today, The DAILY LEADER continues its publication ofvaledictorian and salutatorian speeches from the Class of 2011.Today’s address is from Jedd Moak, Enterprise Attendance Centervaledictorian.

A lady in a faded gingham dress and her husband, dressed in anold suit, stepped off the train in Boston and walked timidlywithout an appointment into the Harvard University president’souter office. The secretary could tell that such backwoods, countryhicks had no business at Harvard and probably did not even deserveto be in Cambridge.

“We would like to see the president,” the man said softly.

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“He will be busy all day,” the secretary snapped.

“We will wait,” the lady replied.

For hours the secretary ignored them, hoping that the couplewould finally become discouraged and go away. They did not though,and the secretary grew frustrated and finally decided to disturbthe president, even though it was a chore she always regretted.

“Maybe if you see them for a few minutes, they will leave,” shesaid to him!

He sighed in exasperation and nodded. Someone of his importanceobviously did not have the time to spend with them, and he detestedgingham dresses and homespun suits cluttering up his outer office.The president, stern-faced and with dignity, strutted toward thecouple.

The lady told him, “We had a son who attended Harvard for oneyear. He loved Harvard. He was happy here. But about a year ago, hewas accidentally killed. My husband and I would like to establish amemorial for him, somewhere on campus.”

The president was not touched; he was shocked.

“Madam,” he said gruffly, “we cannot put up a statue for everyperson who attended Harvard and died. If we did, this place wouldlook like a cemetery.”

“Oh no,” the lady explained quickly. “We do not want to build astatue. We would like to give a building to Harvard for him.”

The president rolled his eyes. He glanced at the gingham dressand homespun suit, then exclaimed, “A building! Do you have anyearthly idea how much a building costs? We have over seven and ahalf million dollars in the physical buildings here atHarvard.”

For a moment the lady was silent. The president was pleased;maybe he could get rid of them now.

The lady turned to her husband and said quietly, “Is that all itcost to start a university? We could just start our own?” Herhusband nodded.

The president’s face wilted in confusion and bewilderment. Mr.and Mrs. Leland Stanford got up and walked away, traveling to PaloAlto, Calif., where they established the university that bearstheir name, Stanford University, a memorial to a son that Harvardno longer cared about.

This is a story by Malcolm Forbes that shows you can never judgean individual by their appearance.

The Class of 2011 cannot be judged by appearance; if you cameacross our class what would you say? Some would have looked at afootball team and doubted, yet we were a part of a team that brokehistory and won the first class district 2A game. At first glancewould you see a class that excelled to the superior ranks in statesubject area tests, and brought home the gold in severalcompetitions in business, science, and FFA? Would you see anoutgoing beta state secretary, a girls doubles team who wowed thecrowd all the way to the state championship tournament, or ahistory-making softball team with their first-ever 2A districtchampionship in fastpitch softball?

Well I do. I also see extraordinary potential in distinguishedparents, teachers, welders, doctors, journalists, physicaltherapists, coaches, nurses, occupational therapists, lawyers,pharmacists, mechanics, plumbers, carpenters, engineers, militarypersonnel, and presidents. The sky is the limit to the dreams wehold.

The road to success and fulfillment of our dreams has not beenan easy one. This year in particular we have faced judgment fromthe community, the media, and individuals. Just as the story Ispoke of earlier, we were judged on appearances and not the wholetruth.

The thought of Leland and Jane Stanford arriving at Harvard in athreadbare suit and a faded gingham dress is entertaining, but verymistaken. Even though the anecdote is not true the lesson givenprovides wisdom for us all.

In Matthew 7, verses 1-5, Jesus tells us “Judge not, that you benot judged” and instructs us to look at the log in our own eye andnot the speck in our brother’s eye.

In conclusion tonight, thank you for your attentivenessthroughout the evening. Your presence is deeply appreciated by eachgraduate. You may not remember anything we have said, and you willprobably forget all we have done, but you will never forget how wemade you feel. The reputation of this class precedes us as lessthan the best. In the words of Thomas Paine “Reputation is what menand women think of us; character is what God and angels know ofus.” Thank you.

Jedd Moak is the son of Joel and Barbara Moak.