I had the honor of speaking at the 2012 Champlain College Trustees Dinner for graduating seniors a couple weeks back, representing the Division of Business. I was unable to get a hold of video footage for the event, however I managed to snag some photos that Stephen Mease took and posted on the Champlain College Facebook Page. Below is my speech for those of you that missed the event. Just picture me speaking it in front of 200 students and trustees in a really awesome tone and you won’t even need the video footage! Here it goes:
As graduation grows near, the cliché of “finding yourself”’ keeps coming to mind, wondering if I have finally achieved it after four years at Champlain College. What does that even mean? “Finding yourself?” Should I have been lost to begin with?
Well, I suppose as a young freshman, first stepping foot on Champlain soil, I did feel a little lost. Though there were many things I could not find, like where my first class in Joyce Hall was located, or where I put that really expensive Marketing book, there were many things I did find.
I found that making friends is a lot easier than it sounds—all you need is the same area code or a really awesome band tee and BOOM, you’re friends! I know because this is how I found my roommates. The three of us have lived together since sophomore year and all it took was one simple moment.
Junior year, we took a break from living with each other to study abroad. During this break, I found that it’s still just as simple to make friends, even if you speak totally different languages—all you need to have in common is that you’re both eating a sandwich. Silly, I know, but this is how I made my first friends abroad.
So if I can find friends under ridiculously simple circumstances, how hard could it be to find myself? To find something is to “discover or perceive it by chance or unexpectedly.” I’ll tell you what’s unexpected is reflecting back on freshman year all-nighters during finals week and saying, “Hey, that was fun!” Even more unexpected is wishing I still had a pass to the dining hall to get a hold of those deep-fried Snickers bars. Who would have thought that was a good idea?
As I think about these simple moments that made up my college experience, I wonder what I must have been thinking as a young high school student, about to embark on the world of higher education. I definitely had dreams and perceptions of what this exciting new life at Champlain might be like. But to be honest, I know that my college experience was BETTER than anything I could have dreamed up in my head.
How do I know this? Because I found everything I was looking for, but also everything I wasn’t looking for. It’s this piece of what you’re not looking for that we can’t possibly place in our wildest dreams. So thank you, Champlain College, because each and every moment and experience here has somehow helped me find what I didn’t even know I needed. You helped me find “myself.”
I really appreciate having the opportunity to speak and I wish all graduating seniors the best of luck in their future endeavors!