from the president
the course of the past six years, I have travelled hundreds of thousands
of miles on behalf of our College. I have met thousands of alumni all
over the country and abroad. I have heard countless times the same
phrase: “If it had not been for Trinity….” On April the 29th, hundreds
of Trinity alumni, parents, and friends met for a gala event at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, thanks to the hard work of our fine
Advancement operation at the College and especially thanks to Nina
Diefenbach, Trinity Class of 1980 who serves at one of the most famous
museums in the world as the vice president for development and
membership. At that event, three Trinity students spoke about their
life-changing experiences at the College: Vinit Agrawal, from Nepal,
Trinity Class of 2010, Kate Cummings, from New Orleans, Trinity Class of
2011, presently serving as an intern in the White House, and Adam
Dawson, from Connecticut, Trinity Class of 2010. Adam’s address is, to
my mind, the most remarkable story I have ever heard from a student, at
any of the four institutions at which I have been privileged to serve
over my long career. With Adam’s
permission, I am sharing his address with all of you. It speaks for itself.
I have never had the pleasure of being formally introduced to most of you. However, there are many of you who already know a great deal about me. At Reunion weekend a short ten months or so ago, President Jones delivered a sermon in our Chapel about a young man he called Dave and his difficult journey through
college. At the close of his sermon, President Jones promised never to reveal Dave’s true identity, but I never made that promise, so please allow me to shed a little light onto his story. I am Dave. President Jones told me once that hundreds, possibly thousands, of alums, parents, and others connected to the Trinity community have read this sermon. Tonight I am going to speak about my adventures that brought me to Trinity’s campus, the subsequent events that will somehow allow me to graduate next month, and that remarkably have brought me to stand before you this evening. My story is significant because it is simply concrete evidence for why Trinity is vitally important to its students.
I had decided that I was going to attend Trinity College in the summer of 2007. At this point, I had had to leave the University of Vermont; was living at home, serving as the primary caregiver for my partially paralyzed mother; and was working full-time. I was forced to leave Vermont because of my family’s inability to pay my tuition and fees. Unfortunately, I had missed the regular admission deadlines for Trinity, but I was able to take two courses that fall as a non-matriculated special student. While attending classes, I was still working and caring for my mother at home. It was also during this first semester at Trinity that I joined the men’s varsity rowing team, was elected to the Student Government’s Finance Committee, and participated in the College’s Investment Club. From the very beginning, I knew I was going to do whatever it took to become a full-time student. Graduating from Trinity became the single most important thing to my life.
As that first semester ran its course, I planned out my application for full-time admission to Trinity. I thought, “What application sitting in front of the admission committee could possibly be more convincing than mine?” Well, I soon found out. The admissions committee decided that about 700 applications were more convincing. I received the letter denying me full-time admission in the winter of 2008. In retrospect, I have to admit that my Vermont transcript was so deficient that had I been sitting on the admissions committee, I would have had to deny myself admission because of the holes in my credits from there.
This left me with only one option, to continue on as a special student. My boss at that time told me I was a dreamer, that the chances of my being accepted and ever graduating from Trinity were zero. He urged me to apply to the University of Hartford, where he could guarantee my admission with financial aid so
I could become an accountant and follow a career under his guidance. I was strongly encouraged to give up on Trinity, throw economics aside, and stop focusing on rowing. I believed, and still do, that college is an experience where a student should be able to pursue all of his or her ambitions. I had two ambitions, earn a degree in economics, and join a rowing squad that few can rival. None of this would have been possible at the University of Hartford. Tensions at work finally came to a head, and I decided to leave the firm halfway into my second semester. When I left the firm, I knew I had learned two incredibly valuable lessons that I would like to share with you. First, I will never be an accountant and second, dreams are never meant to be thrown aside, dreams are never meant to be given up on.