To say that a chapter of my life has ended would probably be a bit of an understatement. The past four years of my life and what happened during them... the good, the bad, the ugly... will leave a permanent mark on me for my whole life. The friends I made, the lessons I learned, not to mention the diploma I earned have all, and will all, continue to shape me. It is now starting to hit me how much I will deeply miss DC, the experiences and most of all the people. So for all of my GW friends and, of course, everyone else I have something that hopefully will resonate at some level with you. Unbeknownst to anyone I wrote and auditioned to speak at graduation. Both obviously and unfortunately I was not selected. I would have like nothing more than to have been able to share this message with all of you at our graduation, unfortunately, fate had another plan. I have decided to post it here so that anyone who chooses to, can read it. Again, my apologies if the grammar and what not is a bit off... it was meant to be read aloud and I think if you do this you will be able to follow the flow of it a bit better.
First, remembering that have our whole lives ahead of us to be GW
graduates and remembering we have only one chance to be a son, a
daughter, a brother, a sister, a granddaughter or a grandson, let us
take this opportunity to stand and thank our families and friends.
Thank you to our mothers and fathers, our stempmoms and step dads, our
grandmas and grandpas, our brothers and sister, our aunts and uncles
and everyone else who has stood by us and supported us with love and
commitment in our pursuit of academic excellence. Thank you!
To our parents: relax. Its over. We’ve completed all our requirements.
Used all of our Gworld money. Finished all of our papers. And even
woke up on time for all of our final exams. Now, we just need to pay
off our student loans.. Ok, so maybe don’t relax just quite yet.
To our brothers and sisters: Oh ye of little faith!
And to everyone else: Thanks for calming down our parents over the
past four years.
I have spent the past four years as a student of International Affairs
learning about the effects of the colonial legacy. From the favellas
of Brazil, the townships of South Africa, the outcast of India, the
genocides of entire peoples, the imprisonment and slavery, the
pillaging of resources and the poverty, hunger, and suffering of all
To all of these people, in all of these places, and more, the word
COLONIAL is often partnered with a tear in their eyes, a scarring
memory, a culture lost, a language forgotten, a people displaced and a
country in ruin.
To these people, the COLONIALS came in with little or no compassion
for their way of life. They used, converted, enslaved, raped, and
tortured them into a life of submission-- if they were lucky. For
others, the COLONIALS could only see them as savages worthy of nothing
short of death.
WE are COLONIALS. Proud to wear this word across our chest, not
thinking once, of the weight that this word carries. We are not,
however, THOSE, COLONIALS. We are a group of people who are committed
to using our talents and changing the world.
We have a very difficult task in carrying this name, out into our broken world.
And today I charge each and everyone of us with the task of changing
this legacy. Taking the word COLONIAL and removing the shackles of its
troubled past and freeing it.
We have already started this new legacy: with our hard work and
studying, our study abroad experiences, our alternative spring break
trips, our bake sales, our student organizations, and our commitment
to service locally, nationally, and internationally.
Wherever you go from here: to a familiar place with familiar cooking,
to a new career in a new place, a new school for continued studies, a
time of travel or a time of service, go forward with a commitment to
changing the world-- for good.
For good in two very important ways: first, for the betterment of
society and the world and second, in a way in which we could never
turn back to a past time.
I stand here as proof that your GPA is not your most important asset
in life. With purpose and determination and with the skills and
talents that we have acquired and perfected during our time here at GW
we CAN change our world, for good.
Congratulations to everyone! We’ve don’t it! The easy part is over,
it’s done. Now, now, we answer our calls, each of us individually, yet
each of us together, collectively, bound by our time here at GW and
forever in our mission to create a new COLONIAL legacy. Thank you.