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College or University Graduation Speech

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Members of the faculty, parents, guests, and graduates, have no fear. I am well aware that on a day of such high excitement, what you require, first and foremost, of any speaker is brevity. I shall not fail you in this respect.

When we arrived at State College, all was new to us and we walked around looking up at everything in awe. As we have been preparing to leave, we were given the chance to see State College from the top of the tallest building, looking down on everything with nostalgic familiarity—inspecting the tiny people that bring State College to life, trying to imagine the countless buses we squeezed to get on, and the hours spent talking to friends.

State College has meant something different to each of us, the good, the basketball. The thing about State College is that everyone is so excited to be here that the energy is palpable. There is a vibrancy and newness and sense of possibility, that carries us as students, motivates you as teachers and staff, and makes an impression on those watching us—and indeed we know there are many people watching us, looking out for the good, the bad, the basketball.

We are a community diverse in thought and background: the kind of terrain that is never easy to navigate. Take it from my own experience, as I have spent my whole life learning to walk through such terrains—through countries, and communities, and schools that are divided and diverse and marked by difference—so I know how challenging and uncomfortable and sometimes exhausting that process can be—but I also know that it is remarkably rewarding, and powerful, but most of all, necessary.

I know that graduation speeches are notorious for trying to impart grand messages on a sea of overwhelmed and overheated people, ...


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...moment since we were born. When we left for college, they knew that we were still kids at heart. Now they look at the young men and women we’ve become and find themselves as speechless as we are. For lack of words, just turn around and blow your parents a kiss, give them a wave; it’s Mother’s Day after all, and they know the gratitude and love that these simple gestures mean today.
Our families held us up when we were learning to walk, while we were learning to become adults, and amidst the uncertainties of moving on, they once again become our ground and the arms that keep us steady. The best friends we’ve made have become our family too and they will be with us through this uncertainty and others.

For now, savor the goodbyes and welcome the new beginnings and remember that four years ago, we were doing the same exact thing—and everything has turned out fine.



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