Frank Anastasio '12 returned to campus during a break from his studies at The George Washington University.
Hello everyone. Man, it’s good to be back. To all of the old faces: it is very good to see you all again. To all of the new faces: welcome to Peddie and it is very nice to meet you. I hope you all are having a good day so far. I am Frank Anastasio, a 2012 Peddie graduate. I currently attend The George Washington University in Washington DC where I am majoring in Finance and Minoring in Chinese. I am a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity and I have held internships in Congress, with Congresswomen Kathy McMorris Rogers, as well as this summer, I will be working for a private equity fund in Shanghai.
During my time at Peddie I was captain of the football team, captain of the lacrosse team, prefect in Mariboe dorm, Gold Key society member, Falcon’s nest member, etc. - the list goes on. Although from the outside it would seem that I did well here at Peddie, the sad truth is that I can honestly look you in the eyes and tell you that I did not take full advantage of my Peddie experience. I could have worked harder in the classroom, on the field, and within the community.
And there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about that fact.
So here is where my first challenge to all of you begins; this includes teachers and students alike. I challenge you to take full advantage of your time here at Peddie. Work as hard as you possibly can in the classroom while maintaining a healthy life style. Give every ounce of what you’ve got on the field, on the court, in the pool or whenever you wear the Peddie letters on your chest. And get engaged in the community to become closer to the people around you.
You were all selected to be here. Therefore, you are all special in your own way. Geez, I didn’t realize how much that made me sound like a kindergarten teacher. That was cliché and a bit scary! Rgardless, it’s true. Get to know someone you would not normally hang out with. Join a club you wouldn’t normally join and invest yourself in it. Commit to things 100 percent and fully immerse yourself into whatever it is that you are doing. Go to the plays that your peers put on - we have a fantastic arts department! Go to all the games and see your friends in action. But above all, achieve in the classroom because that will prepare you for the future. Your grades and your achievements at Peddie are extremely important and will be remembered for the rest of your life.
Now time for my second challenge to you all, a challenge that should be met by everyone. It is a simple challenge. I challenge you to be a good person. Being a good person consists of three characteristics in my opinion: kindness, honesty, and intelligence. These attributes will take you very far in life.
Intelligence. Knowledge is something you all clearly strive for because you are all here at Peddie; however, this is not the only type of intelligence I am referring to. Emotional intelligence is also extremely important, knowing what people feel and making an effort to benefit someone other than yourself. Be intelligent.
Honesty. Have good integrity. When no one is looking it is easy to fall into temptation. However, life is much easier when you are always honest. Honesty will aid you when you least expect it. Be honest.
Finally, kindness. People are much more receptive to kindness and reason. Be kind to everyone around you. When I was at Peddie, at times I thought I was too cool for school and would make fun of other people. I stayed with one group of friends and would shut others out. Well, I’ll tell you this; that type of mentality is a losing mentality. True winners have the courage to be kind to everyone and give everyone a chance at friendship. Meeting more people only enhances your worldliness and provides you the opportunity to learn about cultures that you don’t already know about. My closest friends at school are form England, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and Iran. And I have become a much more cultured person because of their friendships. So much so that I no longer chew with my mouth open or use my shirt as a napkin. Ok, well I guess I still do those things, but that's not the type of culture I’m talking about. So please have the courage to befriend everyone within your community because I guarantee you will be amazed with the connections you create.
Which leads me to the second half of this challenge. Our former headmaster Mr. Green once said, “We are elite, although we are not elitists.” I want you all to take this to heart. Be able to talk to the plumber and to the doctor as Mr. Green would say. A true sign of wealth and success is humility. So get involved in the community, make new friends, and be a common person, but strive for uncommon goals.
My third and final challenge is the most significant thing that I can ever pass along to you as future Peddie Alumni. And that is to pursue your dreams. Explore and explore until you find what you are passionate about, then hang on to it and make your dreams become reality. Do what you want to do in life - after all it is your life. Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
You see, society likes to tell us which subjects in school are important to study and whoever makes more money is more successful. This is all nonsense. Study a subject that you are passionate about, work in a field that you actually care about. If you do what you love and you do it well, you are going to be successful. Never let somebody tell you what to do with your life and never let money become more important to you than your relationships with the people around you.
Have love for Peddie because Peddie truly loves you. I love Peddie. This is my home. When people think of me I want them to think of Peddie as well. Use the resources you have here at Peddie, take a leap of faith and be the author of your own life. Now I’d like to leave you by sharing with you something that I wrote and thank you to those who are still awake.
Reality is that society is comprised of people.
Reality is that people make up the world.
Therefore, the world, people, and reality don’t make much sense to me.
Why does race still influence our society?
Why do human beings still commit crimes against other human beings?
Why is there still war?
Why do people still not believe in themselves and think that they cannot become something or cannot do something when we watch people achieve their dreams every day?
This is why I choose to reject societal reality and I dare to create my own.
I challenge each and every one of you to create your own realities, and maybe one day, I too will have the courage to follow you all.
Thanks for listening