“'Oh, that’s clever, Dad,' I thought,” Ryan told chuckling students. “'You stink, Dad,’ is what I think I said."
How could it be that the senior Ryan was telling his son to basically give in to peer pressure? “Whatever happened to ‘If your friend jumps off a bridge, would you jump as well?’” he asked.
“But my dad was right.” The younger Ryan did want to ride Space Mountain and in this case, peer pressure helped him overcome one of his fears. (Ryan was quick to point out that, in most cases, peer pressure is not helpful.) The next day he got back in line with his sister. “I got on the ride, and I loved it,” he said. “I was scared and I think I screamed a few times. OK, maybe I cried a little. But I ultimately found the ride thrilling.
“The lesson I drew from this, the one that has stayed with me, is that if you really want to do something, don’t let your fear of the unknown prevent you from trying,” Ryan said.
In this way, Ryan continued, Space Mountain is like college or some other large challenge one might face. Dig in, he said, explore and seek out challenges and know that it will not always be easy. “In fact, I would encourage you to find at least one thing – one lawful thing, I should add –one lawful thing that scares you or makes you anxious, and try it – whether it’s a class that seems too hard or an activity that you’ve never done before.”
Around 7 p.m., as clouds continued to gather, creating a lovely pinkish and blue hue overhead, the ceremony pivoted to the honor induction, when students make the important pledge not to lie, cheat or steal while enrolled at UVA.
Donna Byrd, the Honor Committee chair from 1991-92 and a former Lawn resident, gave the keynote address. Byrd is the founding publisher of The Root, a cutting-edge online news publication aimed at African Americans.