University of Vermont

Academic Ceremonies - Commencement

Greeting -Jasperson - President of the Graduate Student Senate

Clinton L. Jasperson,
President of the Graduate Student Senate


Hello Graduating Class of 2009!

Is today not a great day? How beautiful it is right now; it’s incredible. We are so fortunate to be here.

Thanks for giving me the privilege of speaking here on our special day. Personally, I can’t wait to begin celebrating, so I’ll make this short and sweet, because some of us have been here for almost half a decade.

When I was asked to speak at commencement, I did what perhaps any modern college student would do when seeking advice; I turned to Facebook. Yes Facebook; and after receiving dozens of responses from my peers about what to talk about, two themes emerged:

The first theme was humor. After reading several responses that brought a smile to my face, some of the best advice that I would extend to everyone today is to never take life or yourself too seriously. Life should be full of laughter, and sometimes, the best laughs occur when we are able to laugh at ourselves and with others. We should practice this more often.

The second theme that emerged from the responses was passion. Whether it was the importance of gaining a global perspective, being an active citizen, emphasizing the value of community service, or encouraging our generation to continue to play a role in shaping Barack Obama’s Presidency, all of these responders clearly communicated what they believed to be the most important lesson to reflect on during our graduation day. In all of these suggestions, it was clear the response was elicited by passion.

For me, passion and love are inextricably linked. Furthermore, they are one of the most important, if the most important topics that influence our life, our legacy, our impact, and our human experience. In my experience as student both, as an undergraduate and graduate student, I’ve craved to learn more about love and what it can do for humanity. So today, I leave you with a quote and an afterthought that changed my live, and its my hope that it changes yours. Here it is:

“First love is infinite in its variety and singular in its effect. Whether it is a religion, a drug, a book, or a person you fall for, you can expect to emerge on the other side nothing less than totally transformed.”

Undoubtedly, we have all been transformed, in one-way or another by love. Simply put, none of us would be here today if we didn’t have some form of love in our life. I know that I wouldn’t be here today without it, and those people closest in my life like my mother and brother who are sitting second row today, just off to my stage right. We should practice being thankful for people like them in our lives.

In closing, think back to someone in your life who has assisted you in experiencing transformation, and be thankful for them! We all are so fortunate to be here today.

Finally, now that you have graduated and the world is your oyster ask yourself “How can I be that person in someone else’s life?” Because honestly, we need more love in the world and brilliant people like all of you who aren’t afraid to share it generously with those who need it. Thank you for letting me be here and congratulations for all accomplishments you will achieve in your lifetime!

Last modified May 25 2009 09:14 AM

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