Academic Ceremonies - December Celebration
Remarks: Katherine E. Ash,
Student Government Association Vice President
It seems to me that when you write a Commencement address you have two choices. You can write for the ages or you can talk to the graduates. My hope is that I will accomplish the latter.
So, graduates, it is a pleasure to speak before you this morning –although, I must not take credit for donning this cap and gown this morning; for I still have fifteen credits, and five long months to withstand before I too, get to walk past Ira Allen as a member of the distinguished alumni.
You will find that being a graduate of the University of Vermont means that you are at least the equal of any other graduate from any other great institution. You are leaving today from an institution that continues to increase its reputation, an institution that has set goals for acknowledging Vermont values, and for mastering academic excellence. So how will you live up to these standards?
The value of the University of Vermont is invested in what you achieve. So, I ask you this: what do you love, and what would you like to achieve? What have you found yourself invested in within these last few years at UVM? Volunteering? Acting as a student leader? Hitting the slopes on your time off? Regardless of what this value is, I encourage you to seek this same value throughout your years beyond the University.
This place also provides us with a clean slate to try new things – clubs, classes, and living spaces – opportunities from A-Z. So again, what is your value? Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe in. Your values and your passions become your life. Find them – and keep going. Don't stop until you accomplish it all.
And, of course – our UVM encourages an environment of Academic Excellence.
Forgive me, but I must make this expectation personal – for I hope that my future does not depend on the grade I received in a geology class, or the number of extensions I may have received during a particularly rough semester. Regardless of these difficulties, we still find ourselves pushing forth – through, pop quizzes, dissertation essays, and final exams. As challenging as these moments may seem - they provide us an opportunity to learn the values of persistence, of setting goals, and of working alongside our peers
As you may have seen during these last few minutes, I am all about questions. So, my next one addresses your future. What's your plan? Even though you are all one semester ahead of me, and although I may seem too optimistic, I do not think that your plan needs to be defined at this moment. There are certainly a few of you who have plans... to work for local government, to work at the local mountain as a snow-maker– and those of you who plan to go West. But, you do not need to be successful right away. Like I said, find what you love. Don't constrain yourself with expectations of immediate success. Success will be a by-product of the life you lead, the life that you have already started.
And if this takes a few tries – it is because it is supposed to. You, too, will have time to change directions, time to change your goals. It is impossible to live without failing at something.
But on this day you are setting off on that next adventure. You are beginning again, and what makes these beginnings so thrilling is the unknown. Think about your first days on campus, whether in Harris Millis or on Central Campus – that too, was a new adventure for you. And you made it up to today, with a decent GPA, and a whole lot of new friends. Sitting here today means you have by accomplishment, or extraordinary dramatic skill, qualified for a shot at the best that your life has to offer. So try things – and try to achieve them. Don't be dissuaded or discouraged, but do allow yourself to be diverted from your first plan if that's what you want. Get off the fast track, step off the grid, and step outside what you call your comfort zone—go out and wander.
For the parents and families watching their students today, congratulations. I was raised in a family where every accomplishment, no matter how great or how small, was still an accomplishment. And this, the celebration of your student's educational experience, is no small accomplishment, and that is thanks to you.
Graduates – be well and enjoy your time away. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you do not remember a single word of mine, you remember those of UVM, and the values, the friendships, and the laughs that it brought you. Congratulations.
Last modified December 22 2009 08:57 AM