At Yale, the academic endeavors of myself and my classmates are far-reaching and diverse. We stimulate our intellect with insightful classes on philosophy, modern literature, economics, life sciences, global affairs, quantum physics, sociology, art history, and a great many other subjects. We acquire vast amounts of interdisciplinary knowledge and skill through close relationships with our professors, who themselves are pioneers in their fields.

And what great feats we do accomplish in our four years! Our writings are published in the most distinguished literary journals. Our scientific breakthroughs earn us awards and high praise. World leaders travel to Yale to share ideas and craft policy with us. Our standard of academic excellence is unparalleled. 

Finally, on graduation day, each college senior dons a cap and gown, strides across the stage to shake the president’s hand, and collects their diploma. Then, one by one, they put on their work-suits and hard hats, bid us farewell, and depart to work in the mines.

It is such a delight to witness each of these graduating seniors, shining stars in their fields, receive a salute from the Yale president and medals commending them with the highest academic honors. Of course, nothing is more gratifying than watching each of them carefully pack their bags with a pick, hammer, shovel, drill, and headlamp, as they head off to their new jobs in the mines.

These days, I find myself pondering my own commencement date. Sometimes I think it will be hard to leave my studies behind to go work in the mines. But then I remember all the generations of Yale students who dug deep and paved the way for us, and I feel a sense of deep pride. Each one achieved incredible scholarly feats. Each one graduated and went to work in the mines. Standing on their shoulders, I’m confident that I, too, am on the right path. Onwards and downwards, dear Yale graduates, onwards and downwards.

–R. Pontious