Founder's Day Speech (2005)

Thank you.  I'm so grateful to be here today.  To have this chance to share how much Stanford means to me.  You know, I learned about Founder's Day right at the beginning of Dead Week and I thought to myself, "I really want to do this, but these next two weeks are going to be crazy studying for finals.  You know what?  Who cares?   This opportunity only comes once a year.  Even if I bomb this quarter, I can just make it up next quarter, right?  I'm sure Mom and Dad will buy that one"

If you had asked me five years ago where I wanted to attend college, I would have said Stanford. The truth is, I didn't know much about Stanford at all.  I didn't know about the beautiful campus, the amazing faculty, the talented students, or the wealth of resources found there.  All I knew was that Stanford was a "smart" school that also had gymnastics.

I entered kindergarten at age five; my first gymnastics class began when I was six.  Since then, my life has been spent learning and training.  My father came to this country on a scholarship to Boston University where he received his doctorate in, what else, education. My mother is a gymnastics coach, and to be honest she was reluctant to let me get involved with gymnastics.  She thought life would be too tough for me.  I'd say its been all right so far.  I have excelled both as a student and a gymnast, due in no small part to the guidance and wisdom of my parents. When it came time to apply to college, Stanford was the only school that offered me a comprehensive education, an amazing training program and a generous scholarship offer.  I was sold.

What does Stanford mean to me? It means taking the IHUM, Ancient Empires and then being offered the opportunity to work in an archaeological dig over the summer.  It means seeing Howard Dean speak on campus, and recognizing his use of ethos, pathos and logos following PWR, and then studying the issues he spoke of in Political Science.  It means reading the review for a book on and stepping out the door and checking it out of one of the most comprehensive libraries in the world.

What does Stanford mean to me?  It means having a sports medicine department that rivals the Olympic Training Center.  It means training alongside teammates that are talented as well as diligent and coaches that push me to reach my potential. It means getting to practice in five and not forty-five minutes.  It means seeing a team come together and destroy Berkeley at the last home meet in Maples Pavillion.

Stanford has always been unique in its dedication to building balanced, comprehensively developed individuals.  From the beginning, Stanford was a non-traditional university that embraced both genders and all religious denominations at a time when most schools did neither.  Stanford also emphasized the importance of producing "cultured and useful citizens", combining a liberal arts education with a practical pre-professional training.  We see this legacy live on today with IHUM, and the various GERs designed to maximize a student's experience with math, applied technologies, social sciences, and world cultures, among other things.  As a Biology major, I have no concerns about not having a well-rounded background.

Today, Stanford has taken its role of embracing students of all types to another level.  Strong academic institutions generally offer weak athletic programs.  A studious athlete looking for a good education had few places to turn.  Enter Stanford.  Stanford has proven its dominance in the field of athletics.  Each year, the Director's Cup is given to a University with "a broad-based program, achieving success in many sports, both men's and women's".  Stanford has won the Cup for 10 years running. Sports Illustrated in 2002 named Stanford as a runner up 2nd to University of Texas (which also only graduates 56% of its athletes).

I'm only a freshman.  This year has been incredible thus far and I can't wait to see what will happen next.  Athletics and Academics. That's what Stanford means to me.  For others, it may be being in the Band, the Berkeley rivalry, the drama opportunities, or a million other things.  That is what is so incredible about the Farm: everyone can take away something different.  Stanford exemplifies the ultimate melding between sport and scholarship.  It has given me the opportunity to pursue excellence in my body and my mind. And for that I am grateful and excited.