The following is the speech I submitted to be the undergraduate student commencement speaker, for which I was first runner-up, at Emmanuel College for the Class of 2017.
“Good afternoon fellow graduates, faculty, staff, family, and friends,
I would like to start off by forewarning you that public speaking is not my strong suit, but as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do the thing you think you cannot do” so here I am.
Today is filled with joy, excitement, and anticipation as we take a step forward into a new chapter of our lives. The Emmanuel College vision statement directs its students to prepare for lives of leadership, professional achievement, global engagement and profound purpose – and the graduating Class of 2017 has definitely lived up to this vision. I can’t list every single thing the graduates before me have done, but everyone here should be honored to look at this sea of caps and gowns and know that as a collective whole we have held leadership positions on campus, participated on sports teams, performed on stage, volunteered for countless hours, completed career-building internship experiences, traveled and studied in foreign countries, made incredible friends, and created hundreds of memories that will last a lifetime. We have made substantial impacts on others and made a difference in this world, no matter how small, and that is something to be proud of. I think everyone can agree that not every single day of the past few years were always fun or easy. We all have experienced great feats, but not without a few challenges and set-backs. Whether these were things we faced as a country, as a member of the Boston community, as a member of the Emmanuel community, or as an individual, together we have celebrated, protested, honored, encouraged, discussed, and embraced all of the above.
So as we begin this next chapter, what some may refer to as “the real world” but what I like to think of more simply as “life without grades” (unless you’re going to grad school or becoming a teacher, then just ignore that) I would like you to promise yourself a few things.
-Promise yourself that you will never stop learning.
-Promise yourself that you will never stop exploring.
-And promise yourself that you will never stop being compassionate towards others.
These are the values instilled in all of us by our soon-to-be alma mater. Values that have become a part of our identity.
Before I end this speech, I want to wish each and every one of you success in whatever endeavors you choose to pursue. Take risks, make sure your life is full of “remember when I did that” not “I wish I had done that”, and as Babe Ruth once said “never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game”. Congratulations everyone, we did it!”
Congratulations to all of those graduating or graduated as the Class of 2017. No matter what school you got your degree from you achieved such a great thing that required a lot of effort, time, and dedication to your higher education. You should be so proud of yourself!