"Hello, I'm Zach Goldstein and I go to The Dartmouth."
The words slipped unconsciously out of my mouth and even moments later I was unaware of the seemingly minor mistake I had just made. It was my first day at my summer job, and already I had confused my co-workers. Themselves students of elite academic institutions, I can only wonder what was going through their minds as I introduced myself, not as a Dartmouth student, but as a student of The Dartmouth.
No one in the room actually commented at the time, though I do remember a handful of weird looks. It wasn't until weeks later when one of my co-workers, upon discovering my role as executive editor of The Dartmouth newspaper, told me the story of my first-day Freudian slip. We both laughed it off as a humorous slip of the tongue and thought nothing more of it.
However, retrospectively, as my tenure at The D comes to a close, I think back to that day and wonder if it really was just a slip of the tongue. Did I say "The Dartmouth" out of habit, having spent the last three years introducing myself to sources, or was there something more to it? Perhaps my introduction as a student of The Dartmouth was accurate, Freudian in that it belied the true source of my Dartmouth education.
For three-plus years, I have experienced Dartmouth through The Dartmouth. Friends, dorms, alcohol tolerance -- all have changed -- but The D has remained the one constant in my life. I walked into the Robinson Hall office before I had even matriculated, and I wrote a story before having ever attended a class. I have been personally attacked by friends, teachers, administrators, family members and strangers for the work I have done here -- and frankly I have learned to enjoy opening up every seething e-mail from irrationally angry readers. I have made allies, and I have earned enemies. I have ignored tests, sports and sometimes even friends, for the betterment of the newspaper, so that every morning I can pick up The D and be proud of what I have done.
That which I have learned in the classrooms of Dartmouth is important but transient. Long after graduation I will have only my diploma, my friends and my memories and I will have my education from The Dartmouth.
It is The D that has taught me my most important lessons at College: to dedicate myself to things I enjoy, not worrying about the direction I am headed; to embrace those who are my friends and to tolerate those who will never be; to accept criticism as opportunity, not as attack; and to take as much pleasure in the success of those around me as I do in my own.
Today, I graduate from The Dartmouth College. And I thank all those who helped me or hindered me along the way.