Two-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker and SOC commencement speaker Barbara Kopple (center) stands with undergraduate speaker Molly Sauer (left) and graduate speaker (right) Jennifer Dorsey.
We've been waiting for this day for a very long time. The papers are written. The exams complete. The film is developed and stories wrapped up. It’s been a long wait.
Now, there’s value in waiting. After all, "patience is a virtue." And college is all about waiting. You wait for your acceptance. You wait for classes. You wait for Friday night. For four years, we wait.
During all of that waiting, we gain knowledge, experience, understanding, memories. And then eventually the day comes when the waiting is over. That day is today.
But, if there is one thing I’ve learned from SOC, it’s that sometimes impatience is a far better quality to have. We need it, because communication is impatient. Always changing and always demanding more. We don’t just dream. We go get it. And we go get it now. And that’s what we’ve done for the last four years. We’ve been incredibly impatient. And it paid off.
From the moment we left high school, we hit the ground running. We refused to wait or hold back. We chose communication as our field and we’ve entered an industry that is as fast-paced as it is competitive and constantly-changing. It hasn’t been an easy path but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
AU has been the driving force behind us, keeping us eager to act and do. The opportunities we have been presented with are unparalleled. We’ve worked and interned all over the country and the world. We’ve studied abroad. We’ve learned from top-notch professors. And as communication students, we’ve had the amazing opportunity to tell stories. There is no better job than that.
But the opportunities we’ve had, and have, come with great responsibility. AU has entrusted us with its legacy, and charged us with the responsibility to make a positive impact. To revitalize our industry, our community, our nation. To leave the world a little bit better.
We’ve already started out on the right foot. Some of you covered the inauguration last year, and I will admit my envy right now. You helped ensure that this chapter in our history will be remembered with exactly the same emotion that we all felt.
Our portfolio classes also made a mark. Mine spent the semester working to bring support for Neediest Kids, an amazing organization that has gone unrecognized for too long. Just a few months of our time brought remarkable support, allowing them to impact thousands of DC youth.
Through our work, we have gained a perspective of the world that cannot be compared. My semester in South Africa changed my outlook and changed my path. While my friends from home were just starting to think about what they wanted to do, I was interning at the Post and a global health group. I was taking courses that pushed me far outside my comfort zone. Most importantly, I was realizing the importance of the field I had chosen.
Communication has the unique power to impact the way we think. Whether we’re writing, investigating, filming, or speaking, we are bridging gaps in society and passing on knowledge. We are ensuring that stories are told, and are told well. And for the rest of our lives, we’ll be telling stories and bringing light to those places and people that have missed it for so long. It is our responsibility.
Now, our industry has come under fire recently. The media is biased like never before, we hear. There is no honesty in publicity, we’re told. Maybe that’s true, but therein lies our mission. It is up to us to bring back the integrity of our field. That’s what we’ve been trained to do. Every person in this room is counting on us to do so, and the fact that they’re here means they know we’ll pull through.
In my very first PR class, Professor Steinhorn asked this question. “Say you’re at a party and someone asks what you do. What’s your answer?” We didn’t have an answer then, but that party is dangerously close now. So Professor Steinhorn, if I may speak for everyone, I have your answer.
What do we do? We are filmmakers, journalists, writers, speakers, strategists, photographers. We are spokespeople. We work to bring about understanding. We speak for those who can’t. We settle for nothing less than the truth, and we make certain that it is told. We use our knowledge, our creativity, and our understanding to tell stories that deserve and demand being told. We strive for excellence. We insist that our work make a difference, and we ensure that it will. We make you laugh, cry, ask questions. We make you think. We show you a world you’ve never seen. We will be the much-needed change in our field and our society, and we will urge you do the same.
Class of 2010, our impatience has paid off. It hasn’t been easy, and by all accounts it won’t get easier any time soon. But that never stopped us before. It’s your turn to answer, and answer with your actions. What will you do?
Messages to the class of 2010
Graduating seniors share experiences and some advice with their classmates.