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Long Live the Class of 2022

<h6>Denise Applewhite / <a href="https://www.princeton.edu/news/2017/05/23/2017-commencement-events" target="_self">Office of Communications</a></h6>
Denise Applewhite / Office of Communications

“Long live all the magic we made

And bring on all the pretenders, I’m not afraid

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Long live all the mountains we moved

I had the time of my life fighting dragons with you”

I cannot claim to have written the previous paragraph. The writer is the one and only Taylor Swift, in her song “Long Live.” In a way, Taylor welcomed me to Princeton, when my Community Action (CA) group explored a whole exhibit about her on our trip to the Grammy Museum in Newark, N.J. As a huge fan of her music, it seems appropriate to conclude our time at Princeton through Taylor’s words as well.

The Magic We Made

Our four years here have been magical, largely due to the community we’ve created together.

We attended classes where we learned from world-renowned professors. The academic community motivated us to become better thinkers and learners. 

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We’ve been surrounded by incredible people from different places and backgrounds. Our greatest learning experiences may not have occurred in the classrooms or lecture halls, but in Murray Dodge Café, at late meal, and in the dining halls. Hours-long conversations with friends and even strangers have made us laugh out loud and rethink our previous views. 

We were able to find our own homes within the larger campus community. My circle of friends, fondly named “Old Folks Home” after the Triangle Club song, as well as the amazing people part of The Daily Princetonian are treasured parts of my Princeton experience. The friends we made and groups we belonged to brought the magic of Princeton to life. 

Our class made this beautiful campus and town into our home. We’ve experienced shared traditions, from the Pre-Rade in 2018 to two bonfires in honor of our football victories to the two-years-late Declaration Day this April. We’ve become frequent customers at The Bent Spoon, Tacoria, and Hoagie Haven. We’ve gone on spontaneous adventures and late-night escapades, creating memories we’ll cherish for years to come.

Ultimately, we all have our own moments reminding us of the magic of the Princeton community, a community that extends long into the future as we graduate and become Tigers in the wild. 

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The Mountains We Moved

Class of 2022, we indeed moved mountains throughout our time here. Our class has been instrumental in movements to make the University better than the way we found it. 

Woodrow Wilson’s name was removed from the residential college and the School of Public and International Affairs, partly due to the advocacy of our classmates. Members of the Class of 2022 participated in activism for Title IX reform, climate justice, a renewed focus on mental health, and so much more. 

Our classmates made their voices heard as they stood up for what they believed in. “Princeton in the Nation’s Service” may sound like a lofty ideal, but if we keep that goal in mind as we’ve done throughout our time here, we all have the potential to move more mountains in the future.

Fighting Dragons with You

The past four years haven’t been easy by any means; we’ve fought a lot of dragons. Princeton is undoubtedly a challenging place. We were tested academically and mentally in our classes and independent work, but we persevered.

Our class didn’t expect to leave campus during sophomore year due to COVID-19. The pandemic was an unwelcome interruption to our academic experience. It was also a source of illness, isolation, and grief for so many of us. 

However, in some ways, being apart brought us closer. Together, we lived through an unprecedented event — even if the word unprecedented was used so much that the term became, well, precedented. We put intentional efforts into our friendships and sought out ways to stay connected when we were physically separated. This became motivation to make the most of our time on campus when we could return.

Even with all these dragons, we made it through four years here, and we did it together, united as one class. That’s something to be proud of.

Long Live

Our time at Princeton is coming to a close. But as Taylor sings in “Long Live,” “We will be remembered.” The Class of 2022 will be remembered for our contributions to the campus community and for persisting in our education during a pandemic. No matter what happens next, we can continue the relationships we’ve formed as we make more magic together in the world beyond FitzRandolph Gate. I thank you, Class of 2022, for making the past four years so wonderful. I truly have had the time of my life, with you. 

Naomi Hess is a news editor emerita who focuses on university policy and alumni affairs. She can be reached at nihess@princeton.edu or on Twitter at @NaomiHess17.

A version of this piece also appears in The Daily Princetonian commencement issue.

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