Welcome everyone - President Kerwin, Dean Kirkman, Ms. Kopple, our wonderful parents, family and friends, and of course, my fellow graduates.
John Dewey once said “the result of the educative process is the capacity for further education.” I know, the last thing most of us want to think about right now is going back to school. (I see a lot of parents nodding).
For nearly all of us memories of frantically rushing to the computer lab, hoping the free printing was working are fresh on our minds. I know the PC grad students in particular all grew some grey hairs waiting to take our comp exams during Snowpocalypse. And then even more greys wondering if we’d ever know the results. I for one thought that we were going to get our results as we walked across the stage today. But anyway, my guess is that’s not really what John Dewey is talking about. Let me give you an example.
We’re in Bender Arena, and this may sound odd but, it’s been a big part of my education.
Freshman year I was here for a debate between Secretary Bolton and James Carville.
The next year the late Senator Kennedy endorsed soon-to-be President Obama to a massive crowd. And last year I witnessed the AU Men’s basketball team take the Patriot League championship for a second year in a row.Bender Arena has certainly been a part of my education. And really, so much has.
Education isn’t just sitting in a classroom, living in the editing suite, or writing capstones. No offense professors, because you truly have been world class, but the value of our educations doesn’t come from the classroom alone.
Education is valued in experiences, memories, and debates. We’ve all sat together arguing about some news topic or the newest trends in social media. And those debates filtered back into the classroom the next day.
Education is valued in not only what we learned but what we did. We all left the AU bubble at some point, whether going downtown or across the globe, to put theory into practice.
Education is valued in not who we came here to be, but who we have now become.
Now we just have to do something. And for most of us, it’s a bit unclear what’s next.
Hopefully we’re getting jobs. And we are unique, because we enter the work force as the leaders, the changers, and the do-ers, of the Millenium, Facebook, Harry Potter, Twittering, technology-obsessed generation. We know how to communicate, how to compete, and how to impress.
So really, what’s next is what we decide.
And guess what? We no longer need a classroom.
In the past year, our educations have come full circle. The theories we learned now impact our every day lives. After all, life is about strategy and framing, language and clarity. It’s about seeing the big picture through one single moment. It’s about being heard, by knowing when to speak and when to be silent. It’s knowing that education isn’t one part of our lives, it is our lives.
Education is in finding our weaknesses and learning to overcome them.It’s in meeting people that become friends, and friends that become family. It’s making mistakes, breaking rules, and fixing what needs repair. It’s in reading books we never thought we’d read, listening to speakers we never thought we’d hear, and going places we never thought we’d go.
Education is much, much more than a classroom. It’s our work, our play, our adventure.
If we take anything from our time here it’s to remember that every day, every moment, we have the chance to seek new knowledge, new experiences, and new dreams. So congratulations everyone - we’ve made it through, despite freak snow, lost work, and long hours. And when you walk across this stage and shake President Kerwin’s hand, remember – whether formal or not, you’ve got plenty of education to go. This is just the beginning.