University of Vermont

SGA Remarks

SGA President and Vice President Remarks


Emily L. Berliet (SGA Vice President)
and Bryant A. Jones (SGA President)


[BRYANT] It is not every year that the president and vice president of the Student Government Association give a joint speech. But because Emily and I already do so much together we thought it would be appropriate for the two of us to give our speech together. Time sure has flown by; it is honorable that we made it to commencement. It seems like just yesterday I was a naive first year being attacked by my upper classmates during the annual campus wide snowball fight. Now we are about to graduate. However, it is not the diploma that makes us special. It is the experiences we have encountered and the growth we have allowed ourselves to undergo.

[EMILY] Our growth in life is not a lonely path. There are countless people who deserve thanks for helping us reach our graduation goals. Parents, family, and friends, you are all a huge part of our success. Our professors have also provided tremendous guidance and knowledge. For the rest of my life I will appreciate your hard work and dedication to my education as well as other students.

[BRYANT] Emily and I were going to give a speech filled with wisdom and encouragement but we got to thinking that the two of us are no more qualified and have just as interesting life experiences as any other graduate here today. Instead, we decided to share a few aspects of our growth as student leaders at UVM.


[EMILY] Life should be all about stepping stones. Don’t be scared to work your way up, take in every moment and understand how you got there. What I mean by working your way up is to not be afraid to take risks from time to time. A good leader takes risks. That is one thing I have learned in my numerous leadership positions. Don’t be afraid to fail. If you do, oh well, failures happen to all of us and to the best of us. You can only improve and become a better person if you make mistakes, accept failures, and learn from your mistakes.


[BRYANT] I sometimes look at life as a chapter book. Part of adding chapters to this book is to travel. Physically traveling to other parts of the world is a component of adding to the book, but you can also travel in your mind. Use your imagination and allow yourself to see humanity through various windows. Adding chapters to the book of life will deepen your understanding of our surroundings and allow you to gain wisdom.


[EMILY] Something, Bryant and I have realized this past year, is to never doubt that you have the capability and capacity to make change. If you want to see change, be persistent. As Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I have seen people say something cannot be done or is too difficult to change. I am sure many of us are guilty of this, me included. Many people may think that it is impossible to make change, but for me “impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools.”


[BRYANT] Leadership has several definitions. As a student leader I have noticed good and bad traits of leadership. I have realized that leaders can be naïve. But, a leader should not expect to know everything. Wisdom is gained through experience and listening to others. Also, I have seen leaders ignore and disregard opinions of those with which they disagree. However, the superlative quality of a great leader is when they listen and consider opposing viewpoints. The French philosopher, Voltaire, makes a compelling statement about this leadership trait, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”


[EMILY] In closing, each of us has grown in our own way while at UVM. Many of us are about to enter the real world and are supposed to start that dreadful three lettered word…j-o-b! Others will continue in their education. It is hard to believe that everything is ending. Our leases will run out. Belongings packed up. Last hugs will be given.

[BRYANT] But at the same time much will live on. We have created friendships that will last the rest of our lives. We have forged memories that will never be forgotten; like the nasty falls at broomball games in the ice rink and road trips to a friend’s home for Thanksgiving. It may appear that yet another stage in life’s journey is ending, but in reality, we are taking so much with us from the past few years that nothing is coming to a close. Thank you for all of the memories and friendships.

[EMILY] Congratulations Class of 2005 and best of luck on your future endeavors. Thank you.

Last modified June 11 2005 09:46 AM

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