The 2013 Senior Address
Full transcript of Greg Baumann's address
On Saturday, May 11th, The King’s College held its annual Commencement exercises to honor the graduation of the class of 2013. Students reflected on their four years, received their diplomas, and were accepted into The King’s College Alumni Association. The event was held at Trinity Wall St., located a block from campus. The Honorable Allen West, a well decorated war veteran and former U.S. representative from Florida’s 22nd district, delivered the keynote address.
The Senior address was delivered by Greg Baumann, who was chosen by his class to speak at Commencement. During his time at King's, Baumann invested himself heavily in the House of Bonhoeffer, serving as Helmsman and later President. In his speech, Baumann reminisced about the journey that the Class of 2013 undertook four years ago, and encouraged graduates to carefully consider the ways in which they had been molded by the King's community.
The full transcript is below:
Good morning. I would be completely remiss were I to start this speech with anything but a sincere word of thanks. A thank you to the wise and faithful members of our Board of Trustees; a thank you to our dedicated and inspiring staff and faculty; a thank you to the donors and friends of the college; and a thank you to our benevolent, loving, and supportive families and friends who have blessed us in innumerable ways to make our time here at The King’s College possible. We would be nothing without you. I also would like to thank my classmates for giving me the opportunity to address you on our commencement day. It is a great blessing.What is different? How have we changed in this journey?
As most of you know, there is no risk of me speaking to this captive audience about any metaphysical or hermeneutic minutia, but today I want to talk about the concept of journey and then ask of us: What is different? How have we changed in this journey?
I want to talk about the hot August morning in the Society for Ethics and Culture when we were brought into the community of The King’s College. We fidgeted nervously in our new suits in the wooden pews as we were addressed by Dean Bennett and our House Presidents about this unique community, and then we filed forward to sign the Honor Code. We were someplace new and felt the adventure and momentum of each step we took along this exciting path. And just a few days later, we watched in horror as our lauded high-school writing got us our first D papers in Campbell and Jackson classes. We found inspiration in Corbin’s lectures on the American Regime. We fumbled through PowerPoint presentations, Excel Spreadsheets, and FinalCut as we prepped for finals for Brenberg, Fotopulos, and Salyers. In the past four years we sat through lectures, failed papers, aced exams, and heard Presidential Dartmouth jokes that had us thinking that maybe we too, had misread the brochures.
We have experienced something unique here. A small Christian college that has challenged, stretched, and strengthened us at every turn.
We have also grown outside the classroom. This class has been the most transient in school history. We started in Midtown: exploring Fifth Avenue and cramming for exams in The Empire State Building. Then we moved downtown to Ludlow and Brooklyn: starting snowball fights on Ludlow street with local bar patrons and SVA students. And now we’ve moved campuses altogether--out from the shadow of the Empire State Building and into our new home here on Broadway. Through this, we have developed resumes, earned diplomas, and found ourselves in community.
We have experienced something unique here. A small Christian college that has challenged, stretched, and strengthened us at every turn. Each semester we were taught to seek the good, true, and beautiful. Each semester we were made more ready for the challenges to come in the next. We have been made ready for new internships, classes, projects, leadership opportunities, and friendships.
What we have learned here in the liberal arts is the power of narrative. Stories are the medium of education, and I think it is fitting to learn more about our journey here through the lens of other journeys, and to see ourselves in a bigger narrative.
It makes me think of one of my favorite stories--The Aeneid. It is the journey of Aeneas, a Trojan whose home is ransacked, and he gets a true taste of “start-up culture” when he takes off for a new home with what is left of his family and friends. The aim of their departure is two-fold: first, it is a survival strategy, and second, it is a quest to establish a new kingdom. At every turn, Aeneas and his band encounter challenges, encouragement, and opposition. Throughout his travels, Aeneas becomes more equipped to handle the next leg of his journey, until the end when Aeneas is able to defeat Turnus and overthrow Latium to establish his kingdom.
And while like Aeneas--we have been turbulently tossed against the jagged shores of New York City life, suffered the arrows of academic rigor, and faced the frightening creatures of time and resource management--we are different. Because in these steps we know that we are not on this journey to establish our own kingdom, nor to conquer Latium on our own strength, but rather we are here to extend an established kingdom, a good, true, and beautiful kingdom that was founded by Christ on the cross.
God has a plan for each of us here, but he requires the humility and maturity of us to thank him for our journey thus far and reflect on how we have changed and grown in the process.
In the book of Joshua, there is another journey narrative where God led Israel through the desert and into the promised land. God led Israel to pass through the Jordan River during its flood season. But as the priests with the Ark of the Covenant set foot in the river’s sweeping tide, the water stopped in a wall 15 miles upstream, and the entire nation of Israel walked across to the other side on dry land. Once they had crossed, the Lord commanded Joshua to select a man from each tribe to collect a stone from the riverbed and create a monument for the Lord’s provision in their journey. Shortly after the crossing of the Jordan, the Lord lead Israel on to sack Jericho and claim the Promised Land. However, Jericho is sacked only after Israel pauses to commemorate what God has done for them and reflect on how they had been changed in their journey. God has a plan for each of us here, but he requires the humility and maturity of us to thank him for our journey thus far and reflect on how we have changed and grown in the process.
That is what I would encourage us to do here today. Before we can influence strategic institutions we ought to pause and reflect on what is changed in us, and how we have come on our journey. Have we grown towards the good? How have we been strengthened? How will our past defeats enlighten our journey to come?
Friends, I encourage you to think on your time here and realize how you have molded by this community. Do not be so driven by your quest for goals in your life and career that you fail to see that God has actively been at work to carry you to the fulfillment of your goals thus far. With that knowledge, know that you can go forth to accomplish what is next in your journey. Continue to grow, continue to learn, and continue to advance the kingdom of God.
The King’s College educates students in the ideas upon which nations rise and fall. With a focused curriculum in the liberal arts tradition, students are prepared to help shape, and eventually to lead, the institutions of government, civil society, media, law, business, education, the arts, and the church. King’s is a Christian college located in New York City.
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