University of Vermont

Academic Ceremonies - Commencement

Greeting Elizabeth Bearese

Greetings: Elizabeth S. Bearese,
President of the Senior Class Council

Good Morning!

I want to warmly welcome President Fogel, faculty, staff, Alumni guests, Ms. Alvarez, honorary degree recipients, families, friends, and especially the graduating Class of 2008. I am extremely honored and delighted that we are here to share this memorable day together.

As nostalgic as this day is, uncertainty about the future might remain. On behalf of the Class of 2008, I can confidently say that this reality is one we successfully avoided all year, last week during Senior Week, and definitely last night. Senior year, I dodged the frequent question, “What are your plans after graduation” left and right, even after my plans after graduation were solidified. I could not pinpoint why I was so incredibly scared about the future, until I realized why I was also relentlessly avoiding writing this speech. Not to mention, every time I attempted to write it, I sobbed uncontrollably while listening to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” I could not even order a sandwich at City Market yesterday without getting choked up.

As everyone had predicted, college has been the best four years of my life so far. While I enjoyed the golden days of my childhood when my biggest decision was choosing between naptime and eating a Fruit Roll-Up, these past four years have topped them all. Meanwhile, in college, I have also been able to maintain naptime on a daily basis.

Four years, though in the same place, have been four extremely different years. At the end of freshman year, I could not picture life without socializing over hour-long Harris Millis meals. At the end of sophomore year, life outside of the dorms seemed unfamiliar. When again will we ever be able to say we actually preferred living in a box, on a floor with 30 other people, sharing a rancid bathroom, and hearing a skateboard roll over our ceiling all day, everyday? At the end of junior year, the idea that, next year, I would be writing my own graduation speech was unfathomable.

As I stand here today, I cannot envision a weekday without waking up at what always seemed like the crack of dawn to trek up Pearl Street, to class, in a blizzard. Unfortunately, I don’t think any of us will be celebrating snow days at our respective jobs, either.

As I stand here today, I cannot imagine a warm Friday without going to North Beach to see everyone I love at the same place and time. I will miss sitting on my porch with my roommates talking into the wee hours of the night, knowing that some of our neighbors are doing just the same, and the rest, are calling the cops. While we were in the busy process of obtaining a prestigious college degree, life was happening all around us.

As I stand here today, I do not believe I have come across a community that is as genuinely welcoming and tight-knit as UVM and Vermont. Whether it was a professor who took the time to get to know his or her students outside of class, perhaps at Ri-Ra’s, Dave the bus driver, or the cheery cashier at the Cyber Café who punched my coffee card far too many times; UVM has always exemplified a positive environment.

I could not resist inserting this simple, but poignant quote in my speech, made by a fellow student of ours: "I was away from UVM for a semester and realized how incredibly unique the people on our campus are. Everywhere you go someone's holding the door open, smiling, giving out hugs, the list goes on."

Finally, as I stand here today, it is hard for me to say what exactly will come in the next stage of our lives. While many of us question what we will be doing in what many refer to as the, “real-world,” we have essentially been living in the “real-world,” in more ways than we realize. Except for the use of CatScratch. Regardless, we now leave the e-reserves behind, and have the rare chance to do what we love doing most in this world.

Whatever this new beginning may be, take UVM and Vermont with you, by never failing to appreciate the seemingly ordinary, small things in life. These ordinary things are truly extraordinary. Spread the positive environment that you fell in love with at UVM in all that you do. This environment is the real-world. Know that with this attitude, life after college, what many consider the best four years of our lives, can only get better.

Last modified November 27 2012 12:21 PM

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