B.A., Newark College of Arts and Sciences
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Amidst the celebrations of this past month and behind my smile, my heart has been extremely heavy. And with every passing moment of this ceremony and with every word that leads me closer to the end of this speech my stomach sinks, because I know it will truly mean that my time at Rutgers University-Newark will have ended, and that the most defining moments of my life thus far will slip permanently into memory.
I stand before you needing to articulate that which is indescribable. Words will always fail to express the reality of the last four years. But I will do my best.
I came up to New Jersey from Maryland at 17-years-old, looking for an education and an escape from my own physical and mental confines. I wanted to learn in a space that would embrace my identity, nourish my intellectual growth, and allow me to develop into the person I didn’t even know I was going to become. So I came here. And for whatever reason, so did you.
To the staff, faculty, and administrators of the Newark College of Arts and Sciences: thank you for believing in my capabilities and for pushing the limits of my intellectual capacity.
To the administration and staff of the Paul Robeson Campus Center and the Office of Service Learning and Student Development: thank you for flying me out to Tanzania, for developing my work ethic, and for teaching me how to use an office phone.
To my friends: You are truly irreplaceable. Your presence and support over these years has been the greatest gift I could have ever asked for.
And to my family: Thank you for everything you have instilled in me, for teaching me to be tough, for teaching me that it’s okay for girls to be smart, and for believing in me when I forgot how to believe in myself.
I hope that in your time at Rutgers University-Newark you saw what I saw, you felt what I felt, and you experienced our university as a space of overwhelming and unanticipated opportunity, support, and love. I have routinely been astounded by this institution’s commitment to the success of its students and to the advancement of this proud city. And so too have I been constantly amazed by the character and strength of my fellow students. For that, Rutgers University and the city of Newark will always be my home, and you all will forever be family to me. There is nothing more I could have asked for from this school, nothing more I could have wanted from this experience. And I know I can leave this stage today with my head held high, assured that I will be okay, that we will be more than okay, because we got an education at Rutgers-Newark.
Thank you to all of you for making this experience so worthwhile, and for your generous time today.