University of Vermont

Academic Ceremonies - Commencement

Kofi Mensah, Class of 2011, President of the Student Government Association

Kofi Mensah

Ladies and gentlemen, Distinguished Faculty, administrators, friends and family and of course, the graduating class of 2011. It’s been quite the momentous 4 years has it not? In 2007 we witnessed the sordid actions of a student at Virginia Tech, killing 32 of his classmates. In 2008 I fell in love with… the all-new Apple iPhone. 2008 also saw the beginning of the American economic crisis and the subsequent passing of the $700 billion dollar bailout bill. Also we saw the amazing Beijing Olympics, and the announcement by John McCain that his caregiver and America’s next sweetheart, Sarah Palin will be his running mate. 2008 ended with the election of Barack Obama as not only the 44th president but also the first bi-racial president. In 2009 we saw the passing of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, the unfortunate publicity of the infamous Octomom as well as being awed in wonder by the stunning performance of Susan Boyle in Britain’s Got Talent. In 2010, Africa hosted its first World Cup in South Africa, not that Americans paid too much attention to “the other football game.” We fell in love again with the iPhone 4, marveled at the gall of Julian Assange’s ‘wiki leak’ scandal and cursed BP for their blatant destruction of the Gulf Coast.

Now here we are, 2011, we’ve questioned our President about the important issues like: where were you born? Are you really an American? And are your Harvard credentials for real? We’ve witnessed the most lavish wedding in recent memory, no not Katy Perry and Russell Brand but the tamer couple, William and Kate. And most recently watched the capture and assassination of a tyrant, I am sad to say it was not Charlie Sheen.

4 years have flashed before our eyes. Ask yourselves this: are you a stronger, more conscientious human being as a result of your college education? Are you ready to put your educational as well as newly grounded and solidified moral ideals to good use and practice? We have inherited an ailing world full of adversity, and as I said during the winter graduation, with this diploma you accept the responsibility to clean up after our forefathers, stabilize the present and brighten the future.

We live in a seemingly fractured society and this should not be unfamiliar to any of you. As you leave UVM today with your diplomas in hand, keep in mind how privileged you are. We were among the minority of U.S students that attained their high school diplomas and made it to college. I recall my high school graduation class of only about 250 students, about a 100 of which entered college. Our four years in college has given us the opportunity to broaden our educational horizons, expand our knowledge of global issues and interact with a diverse group of students. We have pulled more all nighters, drank more red bull and coffee than humanly possibly, endured more snow storms than wished for and have seen one too many naked runners and bike riders, but it has been those shared experiences that have made us who we are and have lead us to where we are sit today. Yes not all of us may have jobs lined up yet or set plans to attend post undergraduate studies in fall but we are still poised to make a difference. We have been challenged with issues of social justice and inclusion and we must not forget the impact that they can make.

To close I offer a few words of advice. Never forget your roots, your foundation is one of the most important things you have. Secondly do not forget the love of your parents, guardians and friends and the sincerity of their love and the power of their concern for you. Don’t fear making mistakes, these will become the basis for your future and the foundation for your development. Above all never lose sight of your dreams, the great leader of the X-Men professor Xavier said, “Any dream worth having is a dream worth fighting for.” Class of 2011, we came, we saw, and we conquered. It’s been realer then real. Best of luck in all future endeavors. Peace out! 

Last modified June 24 2011 02:29 PM

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