Momma Princeton’s life-skills curriculum

Jake Robertson ’15 at Class Day
Jake Robertson ’15 at Class Day
John Jameson ’04/Office of Communications

First of all, congratulations everyone! We did it — I can’t believe our six years at this place have gone by so fast. Two of those years, I don’t even remember at all. But let’s get down to business…

Today, I’m gonna talk about moms. George Washington once said: “My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.” The meaning of this quote is clear: Washington had a weirdly physical relationship with his mom. But seriously, moms are some the most important people in our lives. As the could-have-been-king of America said they are responsible for our moral, intellectual, and physical education. In this way, Princeton is very much like a mom.

Now, you may be asking — what does this guy know about moms? Well, I am particularly qualified because I have two moms. Now, I know what you’re thinking — Wow, Jake, I had no idea your dad was a polygamist? But no, my two moms raised me on their own, and boy was I lucky — except for the hellish blur that was double-menopause.

But we all left our mothers at home and were adopted by a new exorbitantly wealthy and extremely old mom: Princeton. When we left for college, we were forced to trade in homemade school lunches for Frist [Spanish accent] quesadillas, we gave up weekly allowances for tens of thousands of dollars in financial aid, and swapped reassuring goodnight kisses with ill-advised dance-floor makeouts — It was dark, OK? And what was university spokesperson Martin Mbugua doing in Cannon anyway?

Obviously I know that Princeton’s not a conventional mom, because it didn’t meet my other mom at a softball match, of course. But like any good mom, Princeton has pushed us to live our lives honorably, in accordance with university regulations; she clothed us in hundreds of free T-shirts, sheltered us in beautiful campus housing, and breastfed us with nourishing Milwaukee’s Best Light. Momma Princeton cared for us when we were ill, that is, unless you are a girl, then McCosh just kept insisting that your sore throat was a symptom of pregnancy.

Times weren’t always easy, but growing up never is.

We had a sickly youth with bouts of Gastro, Menge, and Measles, but we came together and learned how to stay healthy. And now I know all those times I heard, “Jake, I don’t want to kiss you, you’re gross,” it was just a health precaution.

Our Princeton mother taught us so many important lessons too:

We were encouraged to put the wellbeing of others above our own. Momma Princeton didn’t ask us to care for a guinea pig or an iguana, but rather a book-length academic paper on an obscure topic like “the sociological effects of multilingual ethnic minorities on cross-cultural economies and pseudo-environmental policymakers: a dance thesis.”

And Momma Princeton has equipped with all the life skills we need to face the world beyond the comfort of her collegiate Gothic bosom. For example, no matter where I end up, I know I can staple flimsy posters onto lampposts; I know that if I ever run into trouble I can always elect to P/D/F anything; I know how to fend for myself — I’m prepared to walk a whole block to go to a mansion where all my food is already made for me. We are ready!

Sure, It’s gonna be hard to kiss this 269 year old mom goodbye, but it’s not forever. She’ll never be far away, pulling us back in from time to time, calling us to say how much she misses us and to demand more in annual giving. In fact, I have here a letter from Mother Princeton to all of us. I thought I’d take a moment to read it aloud.

[In Princeton Mom voice] “To my little class of 2015! I’ve watched you grow so much over these four years — I remember when you were [indicates same height as now] this tall. I remember when you took your first steps through the FitzRandolph gates. And I would lull you to sleep with a gentle lullaby: [hums sweetly, then] Hip! Hip! Rah! Rah! Rah! Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! Sis! Sis! Sis! Boom! Boom! Boom! Ah! Good night, good night, good night! I remember when you got drunk at Tiger Inn, which as I found out is not a jungle themed bed and breakfast — I came and picked you up and brought you to get your cute little stomach pumped. Well here we are, four years later, and I have to say goodbye to my little baby. Stay in touch, sweetheart, and come back at least once a year to see your older brothers and sisters get really drunk and make out with each other while listening to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Take care of each other out there. Stick together and stay out of trouble, don’t get involved in any of uncle Jeff Nunokawa’s weird Ponzi schemes. I’m so proud of you, Love Mom.”

And we will stick together, we sons and daughters of Mother Princeton. And I’ll still be at your side when our hair is gray, our kids are grown, and our legs have become vestigial.

I love you brothers and sisters of the class of 2015. Congrats on being outstanding scholars, artists, scientists and Tigerlilies. I want to thank each and every one of you, and so I will, alphabetically:

Ameera Abdelaziz

Rahji Abdurehman

Lily Adler

Priscilla Agyapong

Zahra Ahm —  

You know what, I’ll finish the rest in person. Keep making all our moms proud, fellow 2015-ers, go change the world — and who knows, sitting among us could be the next F. Scott Fitzgerald, the next Sonia Sotomayor, the next … Octomom. Thank you Class of 2015 and congratulations!  

Jake Robertson ’15, a native of Lombard, Ill., will be pursuing a master’s degree in classical and contemporary text (acting) at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in the coming year.