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Alexander Peter Romanczuk

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Alexander Peter Romanczuk

I never wanted to be a humanities student or a science student or an engineering student. All I ever wanted to be was a student. Why, I wondered, did the beautiful, chaotic, and unpredictable process of learning need to be placed neatly in some box and paper- worked to death? The university as an institution appears to support the free, unstructured sort of learning I desired, and everyone I spoke to would nod and smile and assure me that I was doing the right thing, but when junior year rolls around and you haven’t declared a major, you’ll find that you can’t enroll in classes. And not being able to enroll in classes certainly makes it difficult to learn.

So I picked two majors, and I made sure they were as different as possible. (Indeed, the comparative literature and mathematics buildings are even situated at opposite ends of the quad.) To people who were confused by this choice of majors, I would usually explain myself by saying something about how they both involved beauty and argumentation, but that was only half the truth. The whole truth is that I liked both majors, and they were different enough to keep me on my toes. Majoring in both also meant I would never have to take a side in Stanford’s endless and annoying “techie” vs. “fuzzy” debate.

Which is why I was devastated to find out that after five years of thinking I had successfully avoided picking a side, I was finally being forced to give an answer, just weeks before graduation! I could only attend one depart- mental ceremony, and I would have to choose. I went back and forth for quite a while, and I’ll keep the nature of those intense deliberations a secret, but in the end Comparative Literature won. I’d been planning to justify my decision today by writing about beauty and contemplation and Rilke and Geworfenheit, but that would only be half the truth. The whole truth is that I’m here because someone told me that the DLCL ceremony had the best food.

Next year I will have a job. People will pay me money, and I will use that money to buy my own food. For that, I am incredibly thankful. I never would have gotten to this point without the support of my family, friends, and teachers. But I know that those people didn’t just want me to have food. They wanted me to live a life that was delicious, rich, and fulfilling. So in honor of those people and what they hope for me, I have picked the ceremony that is more delicious, rich, and filling