On Sunday, August 14, 2016, the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy welcomed its inaugural class. The keynote presentation was given by Dr. Eileen Lee who was a member of the first class of what was then known as The National Academy for the Arts, Sciences, and Engineering (NAASE), the first incarnation of the Belin-Blank Center’s early college entrance program, in 1999. Here are Dr. Lee’s inspiring remarks to the new students:
It’s a true delight to be here at this welcome dinner and to reconnect with the people and the program that helped give me my start at this University so many years ago. Part of me finds it difficult to fathom that it’s been seventeen years since I started college. The other part finds it difficult to fathom that it’s only been seventeen years as, in many ways, it feels like that was another me another lifetime ago. When Jan tracked me down back in June, I didn’t hesitate to say yes to speaking at this dinner, but when I actually sat down and tried to brainstorm what I wanted to say to you tonight, it was rather like the end of Finding Nemo when the fish escape the dentist’s office and find themselves in the ocean still trapped in their plastic bags, and there’s lots of cheering, and then an awkward silence, and one of them asks, “Now what?” So much has happened to me since my Belin-Blank Center days that it actually took some effort to dig into my memory and try to figure out how my experiences back then have translated into what I believe and who I am now. Ultimately I did piece together a few thoughts, and I hope they’re useful to you, and if they aren’t, well, you’re in college now, so you might as well get used to hearing people drone on about something while you let your mind wander. For the record, I’m not encouraging it, but it’s bound to happen from time to time.