May 08, 2012

Student Commencement Address by Rebecca LeClerc

Thank you President Pantić.  

Faculty, proud parents, grandparents, family members, and above all, my fellow graduates, good morning!  

When I began developing this speech, I first thought about something that I would be comfortable talking about.  

I wanted to tell you to have some fun. And to laugh a lot. To laugh really loudly and to laugh so hard that it would feel like you’re getting an ab workout. Remember those? Yeah. Me neither. And I wanted to tell you to dance. To dance wildly. To dance so that it makes the people you’re with feel very uncomfortable. I could go on and on about how you should do all of these fun, lighthearted things because those are what I like to do. For instance, if you ever noticed a girl wearing a panda hat through campus, well, that was me!

But I’m not going to talk about that. We know these things. After all, we all had to be a little crazy to survive during our years here at Wentworth. If we didn’t laugh and dance and make ourselves look foolish how else would we have survived?

Telling you all to sing and laugh and have fun and wear panda hats, well, that would be too easy. So after much soul searching, I have decided that I would use this speech as a way of convincing myself –and, hopefully you, too–of the things that we need to hear… Some advice on things that perhaps aren’t quite as simple.

My first piece of advice–one that I am exceptionally bad at adhering to– is about change.

Don’t worry about change.  Change is inevitable. Sure, some things will change and we will embrace them with arms wide-open, things like say, making money. But some things will change and it will be much harder to let them go.  For example, we must now accept the change that we no longer have a valid excuse not to have a job. We must accept that the new Flanagan Campus center change does slightly resemble the storefront of a Forever 21. And we must accept and change our eating habits–no longer having the comfort of eating Chartwell’s tater tots whenever we please.

Even the things in which we would be gladly rid of, we will probably miss those too. We will miss making up arbitrary reasons to get our print money refunded… sorry DTS. We will miss hiding under studio desks at 2:00 a.m. when campus police were determined to and kick us out the day before our final critique. And we will miss those late nights in studio or in the library, becoming slightly delirious, going to fetch some Dunkin’, listening to embarrassing 90s music, and sleeping on our desks until imprints of pens, scissors, and squished models were left on our faces.

But there is one thing that I can surely say that no one will miss. I came to this realization just the other day. Let me tell you, this is huge! We will NEVER again have to climb up five flights of Beatty stairs to get to class. Never again! 

So don’t worry about change. It is going to happen whether we like it to or not. Most of us will probably never sit in another class on this campus again. And that’s one change that’s both exciting and terrifying.  But it’s part of our journey. We knew it had to come to an end someday, and today is that day. Change is the essence of life. You must be willing to surrender who you are and change for what you can become.

My second nugget of advice is to stop worrying about getting lost. Worrying is as effective as doing your homework at Punter’s. We’re all going to get lost somewhere along this journey. And we should. Getting lost will only help us find ourselves. We do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it all is going. What’s important is to recognize the possibilities and challenges presented at THAT very moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.

Think back. When you arrived at Wentworth, would you ever have pictured yourself then as you are now?  If someone had told me that in five years from that September day I would be graduating with my master’s degree, and that I would be the student speaker in front of you today, I would not have believed them. No way.

The people we have become these past few years is largely thanks to our time here at Wentworth. We have not only gained knowledge, been opened to new ways of thinking, and been prepared for a rewarding career, but we have built lifelong friendships with faculty and colleagues, and have experienced life in one of the greatest college cities for the past five years. We have been shaped by every class, co-op, and club we have been a part of. We have been shaped by the places we have experienced, from adventures here in Boston, to travels that for some have reached as far away as France, Berlin, Hong Kong, Istanbul, and Portugal.

On this incredible journey, we have also made it through failed tests, disheartening critiques, broken hearts, loss of loved ones, and many other difficult times. But in these moments of hardship, confusion, and discomfort, we have learned more about ourselves than when everything was going as we had planned. Accept that things aren’t going to go as you imagined. The best things will happen when you least expect them to. Embrace the freedom of not knowing.

The last piece of advice that I’d like to leave you all with this morning is: Don’t think about your future.  At least, not yet! Not right now. NOT TODAY!

There will be plenty of time to contemplate the trajectory of your future when you are home this summer–wasting away on your parents’ couches. So wait until then, because you’ll miss all the celebration and adulation. Parents, you too. We know you are extremely proud of us. We can’t imagine the sense of relief you must be experiencing. Oh! And, I would also like to point out that this would be a most opportune time to ask for money.  Got that, Mooooom?

So give yourself a little break and don’t THINK about what’s going to happen tomorrow. Right now? Live for today. Go get yourself a margarita, or a hot dog, or your last batch of tater tots. Do whatever it is you want to do to celebrate. We have earned the right to rejoice for the day.

Graduates, in short, be confident in what lies ahead. Life is too short to wake up in the morning only to worry about what may happen in the future. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said that LIFE would be easy…They just promised that it would be worth it.

Congratulations to the class of 2012.  WOOHOO!

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