University of Vermont

217th Commencement Ceremonies - May 19 and 20, 2018

Greeting: Renee Cruise, Class of 2017
President of the Student Alumni Association

Renee CruiseGood morning and welcome honored guests, families and of course my fellow graduates.

I am sure my peers can relate, these past few weeks have been filled with nostalgia and reflection on our unforgettable experiences here at UVM.

I like to think back to this time, four years ago, finishing up my senior year of high school, preparing to graduate and to embark on the next chapter of my life. I recall being excited about starting college in the fall but as the summer of 2013 began to close, the fear of this new journey started to sink in. From arriving to a big campus, to moving in with complete strangers, I was uncertain of what these next four years would be like.

When I arrived to UVM, central campus seemed so far away from my new home on Redstone and my terrible sense of direction did not help me in navigating what seemed like a much larger campus than I remembered from the tour. Fear disguised as excitement and an eagerness to learn and meet new people took over and fortunately, these fears did not last long. I quickly found many comforts in this new place. From waving to the same familiar faces as I walked through campus to attending my first UVM hockey game as a Catamount, this seemingly foreign place began to feel like home. The quote, “It’s the people that make the place” rings true to the UVM community, from the professors whose dedication to their students went far beyond class time and office hours to our first friends at UVM and all of the everlasting friendships we have made along the way.

As I started to become more familiar with campus and became involved in various clubs and organizations, I quickly gained confidence and realized how supportive the UVM community is. I now realize that as a senior, it takes me twice as long to get between the Davis Center and Kalkin Hall as it did freshman year because of all of the familiar faces I see along the way. Campus seems to have shrunk in size, although you are never too old to get lost along the way to class – something I can even admit to doing earlier this year. But despite that possibility of getting lost, there is one clear difference that I have found in myself from my first year to my final, and I surely see it in my friends and peers as well. Now that we are seniors, and that we have learned about our passions and what drives us, the way in which we walk about this place is distinct, we stand up a bit straighter, walk with our heads a bit higher, with the knowledge of all the obstacles we have overcome.

And just like that, four years later, we have come full circle. Many of us are feeling that same fear, riddled with excitement, of entering into “the real world” But as we prepare to leave this beautiful campus, I am comforted by a few things. First, that our experiences here have prepared us for our future in ways we may not yet know. From studying abroad, to writing a thesis, working on group projects, pulling all-nighters to cram for that big exam, from hiking trails and trading class for the mountain, to becoming leaders on campus and in this community, UVM has prepared us to take on anything. With the guidance and support of our friends, trusted professors, faculty and mentors here at UVM, we have gained confidence, knowledge and have discovered our passions.

Second, I am comforted to know we are not actually leaving UVM, we are simply entering into the next stage of our journey here. We are becoming alumni and therefore joining a network of thousands of Catamounts that spans across this country and throughout the world. Through my involvement with the Student Alumni Association, I have frequently attended events with UVM alums. If there is one thing I have learned from these interactions, it is that they are still very much connected to this place we call home. This past summer, I had the pleasure of attending a young alum event in Boston. I was shocked at how quickly UVM alums filled the restaurant. After a long day of work these UVM grads came eager to engage with each other, to be reunited with lifelong friends and of course, to make some ones. This is one of many events where I felt and saw, how amazingly connected the UVM Alumni Community is and I can’t wait for June 22nd in Boston to experience that again, but this time as an alum.

Today we gather one last time as students on this beautiful campus green and with that comes many mixed emotions but we must remember that as this chapter ends another exciting one is just beginning.

To my fellow graduates, congratulations, Thank you.

Last modified June 12 2017 08:32 AM