Kelly J. Rogers ’10
From Carlisle to Copenhagen: Contributing to Public Good
A few years ago, former Deputy Attorney General of the United States, James B. Comey spoke at Dickinson for a Clark Forum event on public service. We studied Comey’s Dickinson speech in Professor Hoefler’s Policy and Leadership class this fall. In his presentation, Comey explained that public service is like a reservoir: those who have come before us have contributed to the reservoir of public good. The opportunities to do good that public officials have today were made possible by the efforts of those who came before them. It is our duty to preserve what we have inherited, as well as to make our own contribution.
At its essence, this metaphor is Dickinsonian. In 1783, Benjamin Rush founded Dickinson College with the intention that it would be a wellspring of citizen leaders. Rush facilitated the reservoir of public service through the foundation of Dickinson College. Since 1783, the College has graduated an impressive list of engaged citizens. Tomorrow, we will complete our degrees and join those who have come before us. On Monday, we will set out to contribute to the reservoir.
You should have no doubt that you have the tools to do that job. Your journey and my journey through Dickinson is evidence that as we carry out our own dreams, Rush’s dream has been fulfilled.For example, this year, I, along with 14 other Dickinson students, was selected to attend an actual United Nations Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, as an official Non-governmental delegate. All of my experiences in Copenhagen were terrific, but one experience in particular stood out.
I was in the US’ delegation headquarters attending a presentation on SmartGrid energy efficiency. During the question and answer session, I introduced myself as a student from Dickinson College and asked a question related to the presentation. After the presentation, I was approached by a man in a suit who told me that he was a Dickinson alum. His name was Keith Curtis and he was a senior advisor with the US Department of Commerce. He invited me to a presentation that he was giving the next morning at the US Delegation center. Mr. Curtis was serving his country and the global community by trying to find new, more efficient, environmentally friendly methods of commerce. What he was doing by inviting me to his presentation was not just recognizing a fellow Dickinsonian, but inviting me, perhaps challenging me, to join his cause or some similar cause in service to the world.
I was both stunned and proud: Here I was, halfway across the world, and there was a very important Dickinson alum about to present to a global audience of official delegates. Mr. Curtis’ work is clearly important enough that he was asked by the US delegation to present at the United Nations conference. It was at that moment that I realized the power of the Dickinson reservoir. Dickinson has graduated men and women whose reach and impact really is global.
All of you have had impressive opportunities and experiences that have allowed you to engage this world. At the most fundamental level, all of us have experienced the superior quality of the Dickinson faculty and curriculum. Many of you have studied abroad or have had life-changing, hands-on internships. Most importantly, we have all formed networks and bonds with mentors and classmates that will support us for the rest of our lives. Now it is our turn to add to the work of those who have come before us. Using all these assets that we have acquired, ask yourself: how will you contribute to the work of those who have come before you, contribute to the work of those who are now engaged, and prepare the world for the generations of Dickinsonians who will come after us? By honoring the past, engaging the present, and preparing for the future, we serve the highest purposes for which Dickinson College was founded.