The other day, when I wrote a letter to a friend and said that becoming cynical is one of my greatest fears in life, I started wondering if I had given in to the naysayers and skeptics before I had even begun.

I do not think so. At least, I hope not.

I was sobered recently when I read an article in the New Republic entitled "The Angst of an Aging Activist." It was the confessions of one of the Warren Court children, one of the many activists who went to law school in the late '60s and early '70s and who, like me, believed he could carry philosophical fragments into the real life of law: "We would save the world in our spare time, pro bono."

His was a life of disillusionment and frustration, of a desire to live a faith but not being allowed to; of being smothered under the world of efficiency and pragmatism which is late 20th-century America. In a world devoid of philosophical depth and faith, he had become a cynic.

Yet I Leave Bates College with a strange sense of optimism, and a faith that reaches to my core. The lessons of Bates will serve as a shield in the face of the efficiency, pragmatism and cynicism of the world into which I am about to step. . . .

Perhaps we should all look past the tweed jackets and ivy of our academia and know that we leave behind not four years of idealism and ivory towers, but four years of curiosity, awareness and growth -- four years which we must carry with us. For our own sake, given the alternative, perhaps we should all take academia a little more seriously.