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From the Class of '04: Amy, You Said We Were Your Favorite Class at Convocation


Photo by Stuart Watson / CC 4.0

We in the class of 2004 have been through a lot. Our sophomore years were punctured by 9/11, and we began our careers in one of the worst job markets in America’s history. You know what kept us going? You did, Amy. 

It was the start of the new millennium. Bush was still a few months from taking office. The world was full of hope. And there we were on College Green — the 264th class of the University of Pennsylvania. And what did you tell us? That we were the greatest class in Penn’s history. That we would change the world.

We were 18 year olds high on acceptance. You could have burned College Hall, and in our rapture we would have joined in. Do you understand? We would have followed you to Hell.

When you said that we were special, we believed it. 

In 2001, we believed you. In 2008, we believed you. We kept on, knowing that we were being tested because we were special, that we were the culmination of 263 of failed attempts at perfection.

Now we know that we were just attempt two hundred sixty four. 

We stood there, welcoming the 280th class with you. We thought ourselves magnanimous, giving the children the gift of perfection’s proximity.

And then you gave them perfection. You said, without a trace of shame or wonder, that they were the best she had seen. Perfect, superior, endowed by fortune. Zenith of Pennsylvania.

Why paint watercolor crowns on our scalps? Was academic presidency so trying that you needed to create facsimiles of power just for mockery’s sake? Were you so threatened by the possibility of us realizing our silkscreened destiny that you needed to disperse the illusion with cold, cold water?

Fine. Just be warned that many of us are raising our children to be illiterate and useless. See if you can stomach calling them perfect.