I recently sent graduation cards to all of the residents who lived on my floor in Liedman Hall during their freshman year. I loved those ladies. They made my job as an RA so enjoyable. I loved it when they would stop by just to talk. I loved it when we would sit in the lounge discussing our plans for the future. So many of them became RAs. So many of them studied abroad. They all have done amazing things. Art projects. Research papers. Getting accepted to graduate school. And I am so proud of all of them. My last words to them are (were?): "Never stop dreaming!" That's how I signed all of their cards. And I mean it.
It got me thinking back to my own graduation. It's hard to believe that it has already been a year. I still consider that to be the most important day of my life thus far. I don't think I've ever been as happy as I was that afternoon (minus the fact that our ceremony was held inside due to the threat of rain). It was at this time last year that I stood before my fellow graduates and said these words:
First, let me say thank you to our parents and relatives, our friends, and the faculty and staff who are here today. We are glad that we could share this milestone with you.
The last time we all sat here together, we were matriculating. Chances are we were more worried about saying goodbye to our parents or what our roommate was going to be like than what anyone up here was saying. And then we started classes. At first, we were intimidated, but in time we found our own way. We freaked out about our first five page English paper. We’ve come a long way from those days. We crossed our fingers and hoped we had mail – and that there was fried ravioli in the cafeteria. We pulled all nighters – for academic purposes – or maybe not. We walked to class in a foot of snow. We found friendships that will last a lifetime. Most importantly, we found ourselves here at Monmouth College.
Now the time has come to say farewell. We say goodbye to the friends who waited outside the cafeteria so we didn’t have to go in alone and to the roommates who stayed up all night listening to us when we needed a shoulder to lean on. We say goodbye to the professor who went out of his/her way to teach you more than academic lessons, but to follow your heart. We say goodbye to the staff members who never failed to brighten our day. Lastly, we say goodbye to the College that has become our home.
Let us look back on our time here at Monmouth College with fondness. But since commencement means beginning, let us also set our eyes toward the future. We have put in the hours of hard work and we have formed the relationships that shaped us into capable adults. We are ready to face the obstacles ahead of us and now we have been given the opportunity to succeed. Today, as we start the next chapter of our lives, I challenge you to keep dreaming, to follow your heart, and to never give up. I leave you with the words of the poet, e.e. cummings,
dive for dreams
or a slogan may topple you
(trees are their roots
and wind is wind)
trust your heart
if the seas catch fire
(and live by love
though the stars walk backward)
honour the past
but welcome the future
As I re-read those words today, I remember what I felt when I stood at the podium that afternoon. Strangely, I wasn't nervous at all. My heart was overflowing. I was excited. I was scared. I was optimistic. I was nostalgic. I had to try my hardest not to cry. In fact, after the ceremony was over someone told me that they thought I was crying when I started to speak -- that I didn't even sound like myself. Maybe I didn't. But I know one thing, I spoke from my heart that day. Monmouth College became my home. My classmates, professors, and staff became my family. I don't want those wonderful women who lived on my floor their freshman year to forget any of that. I want them to know that Monmouth has prepared them well. I want them to do good. I can't wait to see what the next phase of their lives has in store for them.