Hello graduates. I would like to start by thanking those who trusted me to speak to my colleagues at such a turning point in our lives and in the history of the world as we know it. Giving honor to God, my parents, family, friends, mentors and all those who have supported me throughout my college career.
What a time to be alive. We are experiencing challenges personally, locally, nationally, globally, the likes of which only history has experienced for us. Just a few months ago we didn’t even know if we’d have the opportunity to share this moment together as everything seemed to fall through the cracks all at once. Fast forward to today, it looks as though our moment of glory has once again been snatched away.
I remember coming back from Indiana in march and getting an email shorty thereafter saying to pack my things and plan on not returning to campus after spring break. You can imagine the many emotions and questions that I’m sure we all had at the time. Sports cancelled, plays cancelled, trips cancelled, school, work, stores, all closed. The streets near my home rang with an eerie harmony. I’d never heard Milwaukee so quiet.
While it may seem as though everything began burning down to the ground just as we were about to make our conquest out into the big world, and although you may feel as though your accomplishments over the past four years are being minimized, I stand here to encourage and remind you that you are a champion.
Who can say they switched to complete online learning in a matter of days and still managed to stay on track? You can.
Who can say they graduated college in the middle of a growing pandemic, while fighting for the continuing injustices against the black community, with honors? You can.
Who can say that they are still alive and healthy during a time when people are dying daily from something we can’t even see? You can.
And for at least those three things, we should all be proud and feel accomplished. In the words of Doe Zantamata “it is only in our darkest hours that we may discover the true strength of the brilliant light within ourselves that can never, ever, be dimmed.”
The time to rise from the ashes has never been more at hand! The many challenges we’ve faced during these unprecedented times are some which we will be able to reflect on. They have made us stronger and more adept to change. They have made us smarter and more creative. Whenever we face adversity in the future, we will be able to draw strength and knowledge from this time to get through, and for that, I am grateful.
We will be among the most resilient people in the world. We are revolutionary. We are the class of the year 2020.