Journey of writing a speech
My journey of writing and giving this graduation speech must begin by expressing my gratitude to my classmates. Thank you for electing me to serve as your class president for the past three years. What an honor it has truly been to serve our class and get to know each and everyone one of you. I value each friendship and the diversity that makes up our class.
Thank you to parents
Thank you to our parents and family members who have served as our biggest advocates: helping us move into the dorms, proofreading our papers at twelve o’clock in the morning , and dealing with our constant mood swings caused by all-nighters and caffeine addictions . Everyone here has, I’m sure, told parents that they just don’t understand what college kids today are dealing with, After four years, I suspect that many of us have come to realize that our parents knew only too well what we were going through, and they supported us in spite of it all. Before continuing, I must pause and give a shout- out to my mother: Sharon Kay DeSantis: where would I be without you today? From dealing with the hardship of losing dad on Christmas my senior year of high school, to my concussion that same year, , we have sure gone though some hard times, and I couldn’t have powered through without you. I look forward to our relationship continuing to grow as I enter the “real world,” where I am sure I will need all you have taught me!
To my fellow class officers, Vinisha Lal, Brendan Corrigan, and Kelly Foley: who knew that three years after we arrived at Wittenberg we would be best friends, always ready to dance to lighten the mood. Your dedication to our class does not go unnoticed, thank you for all the support.
Impact of faculty
And to faculty and staff: you have challenged us, supported us, guided us and prepared us for this moment. Thank you. I was reminded of this even in writing this last speech of my college career. One would think that writing a commencement speech would be an easy task, in reflecting on memories and looking to the future. False. To overcome a never-ending series of writers block I met with a variety of people who I have grown to admire such as Pastor Rachel Tune, Dean Kelly, & Dr. Matthew Smith But in meeting with faculty and staff about it, once again I felt completely validated in having chosen to come to Wittenberg; the faculty and staff on our campus are simply defined by their vocation. They are invested in each and every student and care about our academic, social, emotional, spiritual and physical well being. In addition, they share passions and interests with us. I remember junior year of high school when, on a college visit I met with Darcy Fallon. I was interested at the time in being an English major and she spent the time with me, only a prospective student, to help me map out what a schedule would look like if I were to become an English major. Also standing out in my mind is freshmen year in my Wittsem “Counter Cultures of Dissent” with Dr. Rick Incorvati, when we visited a local commune and had dinner at an Amish family’s home. Every single professor on this campus has challenged us to think beyond easy answers, beyond two-dimensional thinking. Because of them, we know that there is not always a right answer and that it is necessary to continue to ask questions and explore the world in order to acheive personal growth. Thank you to our faculty for preparing us to truly make the most out of our lives.
A graduation speech would not be complete without mentioning favorite memories from these four years. Talking to a variety of you our favorite memories seemed to form a recurring pattern. Remember walking around campus during new student days making friends and bonding over our shared new beginning?. As freshman, remember learning the truth of the phrase “slow and steady wins the race” both in the classroom and during the weekends? Remember when Cartel was the band at our first Wittfest? Over the past four years, our athletic teams have had great successes winning the All Sports Trophy last year.
Many of our classmates have won conference awards or even national awards due to their athletic and academic performance. During our time at Wittenberg it has been ranked by the Princeton Review in the top 20 for most beautiful campuses, most to do on campus, professors get high marks on campus, and best class room experience. This year we were tied first for #1 in the country for Fulbright professors. That’s pretty big stuff. I’m sure you remember the ice story this year where we had three snow days in a row, creating ideal conditions for sledding in the hollow. Even though the CDR no longer uses trays we adapted and improvised, many of us using cookie sheets from sorority houses. And speaking of sororities, on a personal note, I will always cherish my time in Alpha Delta Pi: from having Jerry T dj all of our formals to supporting each other during tough times. I have loved every moment, and I will truly miss hanging out in the kitchenette with you next year.
During our time at Witt, we experienced the renovation of Doppelgangers and Founders. I’m pleased to announce that our senior class gift was the renovation of the fireplace in the Geil Lounge. We learned the hard way and observed that running through a dorm with an air soft gun is not a good idea. Regardless of which side we were on politically , we’ll never forget campus coming together on election night 2008 in the CDR to watch history taking place with the election of President Obama. And many of our classmates have had unforgettable experiences on service trips in Lesotho and throughout the United States, including right here in Springfield. We’ve helped to build houses, tutor kids, work with kids on a farm, and train dogs in our very social environment to get along with lots of different situations. It was hard to let the dogs go after they were with us for a few weeks, but we knew they were better prepared to help kids with autism and other special situations. Like many of my classmates , my community service continued beyond even after I had fulfilled the requirement because I learned so much and wanted to stay involved. Over and over again, we’ve learned that people carry with them scars we might never see. It’s taught me to treat people with grace. Through our service work, we have learned to meet everyone with grace, dignity, and respect.
But for me, the most profound memory was also perhaps one of the most challenging for our community, and it showed me again what a truly remarkable place this is . Early this semester, we gathered during chapel hour to denounce a very hurtful racial incident that had occurred on campus. People from every corner of this community came together to take a stand, to say this is not okay. Students, faculty, staff, alums and community members spoke from the heart against this action, and against any time we treat others with disrespect. It was standing room only in Weaver Chapel. There were tears and lots of arms around shoulders. That even happened during my final semester and demonstrated for me the true sense of community at Wittenberg, what a truly special place this is and a commitment to making our community the best we can be, to live up to our highest values. It’s important that we don’t forget the lessons we learned. It’s important that as we move forward, we do not become complacent, that we go on to make a positive difference in our communities.
In fact, if we’ve learned anything here at Wittenberg, it’s that we are more than a job or even a career; it is about relationships, and community, and really paying attention to what is going on around you and doing something about it . As Dr. Cathy Waggonner in the Communications Department has said, “It is our hope as teachers that …you challenge yourself by asking, ‘What am I passionate about ? It is important to not be complacent and to be fully engaged. Fully engaged in every moment of life instead of just going through the motions.” Life will take us in many directions, ones we maybe never even dreamed of, but we will always be able to make a difference, to be the change we want to see in the world (the line from Ghandi that our class chose as our motto), and we have the tools to succeed. . . . Something valuable that I have learned at Wittenberg that although may be cliché, is true: is that it is about the journey, just like writing the speech. Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity, unless it is a graduation speech but in experiencing the process of doing it.
We came to Wittenberg as total strangers but today I can say I know my best friends, soul sisters and soul brothers if you will. I know the relationships that we have had at Wittenberg can never be matched. . It’s crazy to think that in four years we have been able to accomplish so much and develop such deep relationships.
Today we gather united as a class. The Class of 2011. Diverse and varied in our activities and interests, we comprise a distinct whole.
I’d like to close with chorus from our class song by Michael Jackson
Will You Be There: from Free Willy the final words from our class song:
In my trials and my tribulations
Through our doubts and frustrations
In my violence my turbulence
Through my fear and my confessions
In my anguish and my pain
Through my joy and my sorrow
In the promise of another tomorrow
I’ll never let you part for you’re always in my heart
It has been a fantastic adventure experiencing college with all of you, and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
- heatherdesantis posted this