Undergraduate English Address by Michael J. Phillips | Honoring the Harvard Class of 2020



MICHAEL PHILLIPS: Freshman year, when I was launched into another universe, my only grounding point was the gravitational pull of a question,"Will Harvard change me"?

That question mingled with the heartfelt gifts and the parting words of my parents.

My mom was placing a set of keys around my neck, each key engraved with a word, believe, fearless and inspire.

My dad said,"I've always imagined life for you like a canvas, and I hope to have had one big enough for you to imagine new possibilities.

I'm proud to see Harvard become your canvas".

Minutes later I walked into my dorm room, and on my desk I found a list of alumni that held the keys to that room before me.

The first name I read was Henry David Thoreau, the prophetic essayist and abolitionist.

It was a glimpse into the greatness of what the surreal world was capable of.

"Maybe,"I thought,"it just might change me for the better".

Perhaps you had a similar experience on move-in day, but the chronicle of what we could become predates that moment.