It took eight years. And now, finally, this writer has earned her bachelor's degree.
It was time. With an associate's degree in communications and a few scattered credits at colleges around the city, and with a hefty writing career behind me, I made the decision to enrich my writing by enrolling at Hunter College. What a remarkable education. Not only did I end my time with a perfect score in my literature and writing classes, but I was honored to be chosen at the student speaker at commencement., which took place yesterday at Cooper Union. Standing at the same podium that Abraham Lincoln once used, this newly minted graduate with a CUNY Baccalaureate in Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies received the Nan Bauer-Maglin Prize for Literary Studies, and will be studying (why stop now?) at the CUNY Graduate Center in the fall.
For those of you who attended the ceremony and showed your support, a heartfelt thank you. For those of you who weren't able to attend, the text of the speech is below. The only thing missing was an introduction with the theme song from Rocky. Unfortunately, the piano player had to leave for another gig after the national anthem so we'll save it for another time. Enjoy!
It’s such an honor to have been selected to be
the student speaker at today’s Commencement. Thank you.
I’m really the opening act for Olaf Olafsson who’s our keynote speaker.
a little bit of audience participation involved – no singing, I promise! When
your name is mentioned, please stand and give us a wave.
I’ll do my best to be brief and to the
me get the thank yous out of the way first so we can all move on the reception after
we grab our diplomas and make a run for it.
you, Dr. Kim Hartswick, Academic Director of the CUNY B.A. Program. No more e-mails
thank you, Eduardo Marti, Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges;
you, too, Provost and Senior Vice President of the Graduate Center, Chase Robinson—you’ll
see me in the fall—and members of the University Committee.
you, Thomas W. Smith for establishing scholarships.
a great thank you to every faculty mentor, including my own, Professor Jeff
Allred of Hunter. He deserves an award: He
put up with me for eight years.
we celebrate the individual.
is really what the CUNY B.A. program is all about.
here today because we are different.
didn’t follow the usual route of getting our college education.
we designed our own programs and created our own schedules.
of us sitting here today has the discipline and the creativity to discover what
really works best for us.
two majors are alike, and neither are we.
our programs were especially tailored for us, most people here don’t know each
other. I only know one person and that’s Mark Biddy. Mark, give us a wave. We sat next to
each other in geography class at Hunter, learning about weather and water —and
you know, important stuff like that. Mark knew every answer. All I can recall
is that the professor’s name is Henry, he lives in Jackson Heights, his parents
owned a hardware store and he was trying to lose weight because he needed some
sort of operation. Mark, I’m proud to say, is moving on to a brilliant career in
finance, and I’m – well, I’m still listening to other people’s stories.
names and majors you see listed in your printed program are wildly different —and
we celebrate and honor their individuality.
are a just a few names and their majors and if you’re here today, stand up and
give us wave.
Mariano — Immigrant Community Organizing
Wild — Storytelling for the Stage and Screen
Yi — Buddhist Studies and Art Installation
Nita — Analyzing Music and Dance
Valentine — Nutrition Food Planning and Preparation
Kolak — Sustainable Food Studies
let’s not forget Cory Rainford whose major is — The Business and Marketing of
Innovative Entertainment. We’ll talk.
can’t get this diversity anywhere else.
you might have heard of this guy who gave the commencement address at Barnard a
few weeks ago? A fellow by the name of Barack Obama? His message to the class
of 2012 was — “to fight for your seat at the table.”
would not have worked for this group. We don’t fight to sit at the table. We
are the ones who BUILD THAT TABLE.
for me, well, I’m the last to earn a college degree in my family. Someone has
to be the one and it might as well be me. My degree in literature from the CUNY
B.A. program at Hunter enhances my writing, and enlarges and elevates my
perspective. Before I entered the program, I wrote books about prizefighters and
cops and robbers, so my writing contained words like champion, knockout, police
cars and sirens.
Now, after eight years at Hunter,
you can find words like Venn diagram (that’s the MasterCard logo), allegory, alliteration! parable! and anti-diluvian, in my vocabulary (I did have to look
up that last one again – it means before the flood but Mark probably knows
I first enrolled at Hunter, the last Oldsmobile came off the assembly line,
George Bush was president, gas was two dollars and ten cents a gallon, Facebook
was launched at Harvard, and Martha Stewart went to jail. This does seem like a
long time ago. And, regrettably, the cost of tuition and candy in the vending
machines went up.
one thing I’d like to pass on after eight years and that’s perseverance.
And along with that lesson of
perseverance and for my grand finale, I’d like to share a quote with you.
Ralph Waldo Emerson:
not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path, and leave a
Labels: Abraham Lincoln, commencement, Cooper Union, CUNY, degree, graduate, graduation, Hunter College, perseverance, speech