August 22, 2010

Student Commencement Address

Finding Passion
by Patrick H. Norwood, BCNS '10

Greetings Wentworth Graduates - Class of 2010,

As your student commencement speaker, I stand before you today as a peer. I have no intention of testing your attention span with irrelevant quotes, nor will I attempt to imply a deep camaraderie through long-winded anecdotes. I am not here to direct, nor warn. I am here as a fellow student and graduate of this Institute, and I will address you as such - As a peer who, only 4 short years ago, was just as bewildered upon arriving on campus for orientation - out of place and wondering what college life was all about - At one-time or another, as a frustrated Computer Networking student, overwhelmed by the demands of his course-load. And today, I stand with you, never more proud nor grateful for the many classes, labs, and campus involvement opportunities - for the time we've spent together.

Today, as graduates and young professionals, we are faced with ultimate freedom. And as daunting or comfortable as you may find this new phase in our lives', one cannot help but wonder - what will we do from here? Wentworth has allowed us tremendous opportunities - four years of guided education with an engaged and involved faculty and staff; Wentworth's civic engagement through community service initiatives, volunteerism, and applied academic projects; and, of course, this college has provided a social atmosphere, be it through campus-involvement or class interactions, that has given us a chance at lasting, meaningful relationships.

There is no doubt that we are all skilled in our respective fields, compliments of our many gifted professors. We have all had the pleasure of engaging our community (even if it was just once, four years ago, for a mere eight hours, during our obligatory Freshman Service Day). And of course, the social networks we have built around ourselves, the friendships gained, will only better us the rest of our lives.

But more important than all of these - is what we, what each of us, as accomplished graduates, have learned from ourselves. Take a moment to consider who we were just a few years prior to today - most of us were about 18 years old, only recently freed from the seemingly endless drudgery of high-school, and life was pretty good. But did we know who we were? Did we appreciate our many strengths? Our weaknesses? Could we definitively say "We are determined, we are passionate - about THIS"?

I couldn't. It has taken me four years and a host of experiences - friendships both lost and gained (hopefully more gained), challenging work - resulting in too much coffee and too few answers, peer and professor acknowledgment - without which none of us would be here, and a whole lot of grit - to get so much as a clue - an inkling as to what I'm passionate about. This has been the true value of the four years we have spent here at this college.

And whoever we are, whoever we determine ourselves to be - the summary of our goals, our dreams, our passion - these are the people we should consult when deciding where to go next. From graduate school to beginning a career to starting a business - the options are nearly limitless. None are beyond reach, none are wrong. And while a particular path may be difficult, do not forget how much we have already accomplished.

The real challenge lies in which path to choose - which actions will suit us? This is a petty concern, at best. Our lives belong to us, and us alone. In the past, advisors and parents alike have terrified us with tales of how our SAT scores would determine the rest of our lives'. Next were college applications. Following that, ensuring we didn't just drop off during our senior years' of high school. And for the past four years we've all been obsessed with Mid-Terms, Finals, Assigned Projects, Papers, and Co-Op - the bane of our respective existences. This decision? Where to go next? This is not one of these situations. And for that matter, none of the others were either.

Consider this: Where you go and what you do is up to you. The only relevant factor is how much of you (and your passion) is involved in it. Why do something you don't love? Why condemn yourself to work without passion? It has often been said that those who found passion in their work were fortunate - but aren't those who fail to find passion in their work simply following the wrong path?

I have the utmost faith that each of us will, for ourselves, determine what is best - and if we don't like it, change it. Try something else! Life need not be confined to a single goal, nor a single career. I trust we will all find our own paths, so long as we don't lose sight of who we are, or where our passions lie.

Congratulations to us, Wentworth's graduating class of 2010 - let's live like we mean it, with passion.

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