Clark College Commencement Speech 2015

“About all a commencement speaker can really do is to suggest a couple of things that she believes really matters,” as said by best-selling author Sue Monk Kidd.

And that’s just what I want to do today.

What I think really matters is that: WE DID IT! We finally got our degrees! It wasn’t easy, but we did it!

As I stand before you, I am so excited for what lays ahead of us. We have so many more opportunities now that we have our degrees!

I believe that Clark College has helped each of us establish a connection to our community. We are fundamental components of our society and Clark has been the vessel for each of us. We are rooted in the Pacific Northwest.

Now, I want to focus on what’s next.

New York Times writer David Brooks wrote, “My advice is going to be about what to worry about and what not to worry about. My job here is not to eliminate your worries. My job is to make sure you are worried about the right things.”

I want to share three lessons that I’ve learned from going to school in the Pacific Northwest:

First, own a bike.

I find myself chuckling at the hype surrounding bikes in the Pacific Northwest. I felt cliché when I bought my first adult bike but I figured it might be a good idea to have an extra advantage over those gas prices.

Similarly to owning a bike, you need a degree.

Equipped with your new degree, you can go so much farther. Your mind has been expanded. Your focus has been increased. You’re awake and ready.

And the best part of it: now you don’t have to drive in the Clark parking lot anymore. And for me, that has made all the difference.

Second, use that umbrella.

As a Vancouver native I am against umbrellas.

We’ve been conditioned to look down on them as Pacific Northwesterners but I’ve noticed that doesn’t stop me from collecting them. We probably have one in every closet and in the trunk of each of our cars. But then again, umbrellas are just decoration right?

Umbrellas are functional just like our specialized knowledge that we’ve gained as Clark College graduates.

It’s up to you to decide that it’s worth pulling it out and using it.

As we all know, it rains here a lot. If you’re standing in the pouring rain and you have an umbrella, you should use it. Don’t leave it in your trunk. You have it. You can benefit from it.

Both the umbrella and our degree are not only decorative, but functional. We can accomplish so much more now that we have our heads clear and dry. We are able to handle and accomplish more. With one hand on an umbrella, your other hand is free to shake the hands of other professionals as you navigate through your new networking options.

The third and final lesson would have to be my favorite.

While writing this speech, I learned that you can relate anything to a recycling analogy.

Even children in our community are taught by mentors how to separate their trash and sort it as garbage, compost, or as one of the many recycling options. A child could tell you that recycling makes for cleaner and easier living. What a benefit of living in the Pacific Northwest!

I love the community’s collective understanding of synergetic repurposing.

And Clark College is one of the best recycling plants of all.

The information we have individually gained at Clark College coupled with our graduating class as a whole, will create a vast improvement for all of Vancouver.

Reflecting on my time at Clark College, I remember that the majority of my classes hosted students from a variety of backgrounds. I rubbed elbows with Running Start students, adults continuing their education, foreign exchange students, other young adults, professors, business professionals and more.

Each of you has impacted my life.

Every single one of us can use the life lessons we have learned at Clark College to propel our lives forward.

As my final thought, I’d love to take this opportunity to thank all of you for influencing my life for the better. To the professors who stayed up late to grade our papers, to the joke-sters in the back of the classrooms that made our eyes bulge out of our heads, to the straight-A students who set the curves, to our families for supporting us and helping us when we didn’t think we could do it.

To all of us… Because we did it! And that’s what matters.


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