I have always been motivated by doing and questioning.

In my youth, I spent hours immersed in puzzles, pausing every so often to question and evaluate my progress. With growth and coming of age, I spent more time focusing on my studies and athletics rather than puzzles, while still asking myself whether I was managing my time well enough to fully nourish my mind, body and spirit. And after 18 years of living, pondering and learning, I made a choice about how I would spend my next four years. This choice, in my eyes, was a commitment. If I was admitted to Georgetown over the many other applicants who applied, I was prepared to accept that offer by engaging myself in the life of the community and putting forth what I could bring to the table.

Fast forward, and I’m sitting in the Senior Class Committee office reflecting on my enrollment in Fr. Kevin O’Brien’s, S.J., class “The Church in the 21st Century.” With the imminence of Senior Dis-Orientation upon me, I felt it was most prudent to get ahead in some of my reading for the class. The first article to catch my eye was entitled, “What We Can’t Tell Freshmen,” written by former Georgetown president Fr. Timothy Healy, S.J. Since I assumed that the article was going to be witty discourse on the inner workings of the university, I was quick to pick it up and astonished at the insight I found.

“Many of the things I want to tell them they don’t have ears to hear. The first is that most of the reasons they had for coming here are either irrelevant or wrong,” wrote Healy.

All freshmen have an idea of where they think they ought to be when they graduate, he went on to say. I had a slight idea myself four years ago. Healy wrote that when they come to the Hilltop and are forced to question themselves and their beliefs in the presence of the faculty and academic community. As a result, these first year students reach a deeper level of understanding.

And this, I believe, is how students and people grow. It is not that students coming to Georgetown came here for reasons that were irrelevant or wrong, but rather that these visions were still developing and are still being questioned.

Healy says, “In four years the motivational baggage they brought with them will be repacked beyond recognition.” This repackaging, or questioning as I call it, is the crux of learning.

Reading on, I was not the least bit surprised when I stumbled across a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree: “The best of them (how much I long to say most of them) will all learn one lesson that, while it draws on learning, is not only of the mind. They will learn that in the university as in any other human enterprise you only get what you give.” I so firmly believe in this conviction that I would challenge others to find an aspect of life where this lesson does not apply. Think about all of the friendships you have made, classes you have taken and activities over which you have labored. You’ll realize just how much you have grown from the passions to which you have dedicated the most.

These two principles, when taken together, are the secret to making the most of your time on the Hilltop. If one questions with a faint heart, he or she will not progress significantly. In my process of doing and questioning, just as I did years ago, I decided to accept the challenge presented and dedicate myself to serving my classmates in every way I can. This includes planning activities focused on cherishing the precious time we have left together to helping connect my peers with information and resources they need most moving forward beyond the Hilltop. My encounters with other classmates through my work on the Senior Class Committee have connected me to something that is greater than myself. It motivates me and drives me and I love it. Just like every other senior Georgetown student who has found meaning in his or her endeavors, I too have discovered something special. And that’s what makes us, together, the Class of 2012.

Chris Butterfield is a senior in the College. He is the chairman of the Senior Class Committee.

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