It is such an honor to stand in front of you as the student representative of the Research College of Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner cohort of 2019.
First off, I would like to welcome and thank all of the families, friends and other individuals that have sacrificed their Saturday afternoon for one last show of support for all of us.
Additionally, I want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the administration, the faculty, our preceptors, and all of the people that worked behind the scenes to help us prepare for this next chapter of our lives. Without your hard work and ability to go above and beyond, we would not be sitting here today. Everyone, please give these selfless individuals a round of applause for their hard work and dedication to this program.
So, for the most of you, you don’t know me. I’m an unconventional person. I typically go against expected or common norms and for reasons I still don’t necessarily understand, my peers…still none of which will cop to voting me into this situation…mmhmm…chose me to deliver this speech. That said, most people dislike public speaking, my wife right now is choking down an anxiety attack just watching me up here. But I love public speaking.
See in my experience, the problem with these speeches is that too many people that would stand here before you would use this as an opportunity to attempt to make you laugh, or cry; feel a whole bunch of feelings all at once; self-aggrandize or generically list off the accomplishments of everyone in the program.
I see this as a different kind of opportunity. That said I’d like to share with you what I think is most important about this whole experience.
It’s gonna be a bit of a jog, but I promise it’ll be worth it, just stick with me.
Sacrifice. Sacrifice is defined by Merriam and Webster as: “an act or action of making an offering of animal or vegetable life”…oh wait, woops that’s the wrong definition. Alright… here we go, sacrifice. Sacrifice is defined by Merriam-Webster as: “something given up or lost, or more specifically, destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else : giving up of some desirable thing in behalf of a higher object”.
We, meaning the graduates, all know what we have accomplished. We put in the work, spent the hours at clinic, we did the research and wrote the papers.
As such, I’m not going to stand here and belabor you all will the details as most of you have in attendance today have been witness to that dedication, hard work and effort displayed by the individuals of this program.
For me, this entire addressment is about you. Those who have walked with us through this journey.
By being here today you are validating that sacrifice. This is an important, and underappreciated concept to understand which is why I was really excited to have the opportunity to give today’s student addressment.
What was the most extraordinary thing to me throughout this entire process was hearing the stories from my classmates as well as watching those close to me sacrifice their relationship, their time, their patience and ultimately sacrifice their desires for what they wanted so that we could pursue our dreams.
I know that for my family I was a ghost for the entire year of 2018.
I remember at Christmas of 2017, I jokingly (at the time) said, “alright guys see you in December of 2019!”
Essentially, I made this joke implying that I’d be so wrapped up in school that I’d be unavailable to them until the conclusion of the program.
That, unfortunately, turned out to be a harsh reality that took its toll as the months, holidays, birthdays etc. rolled by.
And while I was locked up in my Macbook cranking out paper after paper or preparing to leave for yet again another day in clinic, it never really dawned on me what my family was giving up. Weekends, holidays, family members and friends birthdays, the children’s school gatherings and/or programs, soccer, basketball, football games, recitals and the practices to match.
And as much as I’d like to say that it was for the “greater good”; “it will help our family in the long run”; etc.; all of these things I’d say are in reality just pretty excuses that never actually acknowledged what others have given up in order for us to reach our goals.
Today, your presence here to be in person for this graduation, says as much about you as it does about us.
What you have given us is the opportunity to go into our communities… not just our places of employment, but our own little micro-verses of friends and family who’s kids always have ear-aches or a sore throat and it seems like they only come around if one of them has something. These same individuals that have the random medical questions that you find yourself answering while holding a piece of cake at Thanksgiving.
Now I’m not saying that’s what they do….I’m just saying it seems like that’s what they do, you know what I mean…I’m kidding.
But honestly, these scenarios happen. They ARE inevitable and we do have the capability to make a difference in these little corners of our lives. It is in these instances and conversely in the macro sense that we are going to go out and serve others with the clinical training we received here.
YOU know what we are capable of and what we are going to take out into the world.
You know what kind of product we are going to deliver because you were the ones holding our hands, reminding us why we are doing this and how we are going to do it.
You were the ones that picked us up when the class load or the assignment was too much and reminded us of how strong we are and the difference we are going to impart on OUR world.
And sometimes, most importantly, you were the ones that recognized our burn out, when we were working too hard and forced us to take a break or reminded us to not be so hard on ourselves.
All of you were the ones that created these monsters, and now all of you Frankenstein’s get to watch us go out and serve our communities in your vision. In the way you want and expect us to, because ultimately when it comes down to it…we did all of this for you.
To my friends…
For many of us, this is the conclusion of our scholastic journey.
Think about that, school is going to be over…for some of us…finally.
We tend to think of graduation as the crescendo of the hard work and countless hours that we have poured into this program;
In actuality, it’s the bittersweet conclusion to this chapter of our lives. And literally speaking, at the conclusion of this ceremony a new chapter opens for all of us.
Despite this finality, we all remain lifelong learners. And it would be impossible for us to be good at what we are setting out to do, if we weren’t.
For many of us, that is why we chose this profession.
Curiosity, the desire to help, and the need to keep growing are draws for many of us and I hope that these will be something that we never shake.
I spoke before about going out and making a difference. I challenge everyone to enter this new chapter of your life broad-minded and challenge yourself to continue to grow with every opportunity that you can.
I compel you to make a difference in every corner of your life as we have no other choice but to do so. Our time and talent would be wasted otherwise and ultimately we have no idea what our little amount of influence may have on someone.
Sometimes a young person, or any person for that matter, just needs a blueprint of how to do “IT” right. Sometimes they just need one person to listen and care, or just needs one person to take a shot on them in order for them to know that they can turn their entire world around.
So be the example and the role model you want in your life, because whether you are aware of it or not, someone is watching that example.
If you stand in your confidence, and hold true to your convictions, those that would look upon you with contempt or distrust will eventually see what a good person who is true to themselves is, and by doing so, you will have created something that can be truly emulated.
The impact that that interaction can have, I promise you, is truly extraordinary.
To my classmates,
I hope that all of you go out and do amazing things.
At minimum, I hope that you all find peace in whatever it is you do.
With those by our sides today and with the support in which they have provided us, our options can be limitless and only bound by the restrictions that we place upon ourselves.
And finally, to the rest of you,
First off, let me say, I understand the irony of this quote…Ok? I do.
Harry Truman is famously quoted as saying: “it is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit”. It was a direct result of the collective selfless sacrifice of all of you that allowed us to succeed and without it…none of this would have been possible.
Take care of one another.
Thank you for your time.
Congratulations class of 2019.