132. My Valedictorian Speech

I had a rather underwhelming convocation ceremony today.

It’s supposed to be big. Momentous. Significant. The only thing that went through my mind throughout the whole thing, however, was “Please let it be over quickly, because I am about to die of boredom”.

From the start, I never liked the idea of having to attend the ceremony. The weighty Harry Potter-esque gowns; the ridiculous square hats that they insist on calling mortarboards; the dreadfully boring speeches – dear God, the dreadfully boring speeches. An apology first for brutal honesty: but Miss Valedictorian, you could have tried a little harder on making a point instead of making broad, general statements.

Is it just me, or is it obligatory of valedictorian speeches to all wind up saying pretty much the same things about: student life was an uphill climb; this is the end, but also a new beginning for bigger things; we learned a lot’ we experienced a lot; thank you all? I’m willing to bet that there’s a valedictorian speech format that circles among these ridiculously hardworking and intelligent students, so that every speech ends up about the same.

I think that everything could have been a little bit more interesting (for me, at least) if I were the one to give a speech. Think of the possibilities! It would be an exercise to see how many things I can slip past the radar. For instance, this is how I would start:

“Good afternoon to my fellow human beings, and honor students. It is my privilege…”

There would have already been a speech done, so everyone’s attention would already be settling into autopilot mode. As long as I keep things subtle, I’m sure I can get away with a whole lot of irreverent things. Now since I didn’t get to make any, here is my valedictorian speech, if I were given the chance to make one:

“Good afternoon to the university board, honor students, and my fellow human beings. As I stand before you to make this speech, there is simply so much joy, excitement, and denial that goes through me.

We came into university all the same: people from all walks of life, diverse cultures, different worldviews – blank slates ready to be written upon with the words of our lecturers and educators. Today, we exit this room as wonderfully unique individuals, sporting our identical graduation robes, mortarboards, and bachelor degrees, ready to bravely seek out our own paths into the future, which had been laid by those who went before us.

As much as this is my achievement, I say that this is also our achievement: that I am able to stand here in this position of honor. I have learned so much about working together from all of you – I mean, who can forget the sleepless nights spend slaving away at the assignment report while your group mate’s phone was off? Or the selfless one in the group who bravely takes on the task of writing the introduction of the report, an arduous task that obviously none of us are capable of doing? Certainly not me. For that, I thank you – and it is my fervent prayer that you may also experience the joys of this learning process.

Our path into the future, uncertain and shrouded in darkness as it is, is lit by the lights of education. We may not see it, but there is much brightness ahead. As we make that step of faith out the door, we can be certain of what lays ahead, and within our heart of hearts, we can be safely assured that this journey will not be left behind.

As my parting advice to my friends and course mates: take it slow, for life is not a race, but a journey. It was, after all, the steady tortoise who won the race, and not the hasty hare. Godspeed to all of you, and may you futures take off from here with rocket fuel.

Thank you.”

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