April 18, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

John Ashcroft faces criticism during speech -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Student rally in support of Gordon, LGBTQ community -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thousands gather in Amherst Commons for 23rd Annual Extravaganja -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sexual violence is not ‘normal’ -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

One year after Boston Marathon bombings, UMass doctor Pierre Rouzier continues passion to help -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Photo Slideshow: UMass United Rally -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Get Yourself Tested at UMass -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass football continues move in new direction in annual Spring Game -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Library labyrinth targets stress -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

There is nothing to debate about global warming -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass hits the road to take on LaSalle -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

No. 11 UMass women’s lacrosse looks to extend winning streak against Richmond -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive latest McCormack Executive-in-Residence -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Got a little Irish in you? -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass doctoral student awarded Soros Fellowship -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass Dressage Team discusses the lesser-known sport -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Canelas: Things worth watching in Spring Game 2014 -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

‘The Walking Dead’ finale resurrects a dull season -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Five places to study at UMass -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

UMass tennis team battles injuries as season comes to an end -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The unheard Commencement speech

Melissa Mahoney

About a month ago I decided I wanted to be the student speaker at Commencement. I sat down at my desk, read through other students’ speeches on Google, looked up the proper form for a speech and attempted to be a little witty. More than anything I labored over how to relate to a class of 5,000 others, the vast majority of whom I had never met, whose experiences at UMass may have been vastly different than my own.

How could I possibly encapsulate a college experience with 5,000 variations while still remaining personal and genuine, without relying on the old clichés, and all in four minutes or less?

While my speech wasn’t chosen (and does contain a few inevitable platitudes), I still feel that I was able to craft something worth sharing. And so, my fellow soon-to-be alumni, I leave you with a personal graduation message.

Holiday parties are prime occasions for instilling fear into graduating seniors’ hearts. A time of hope and light, of New Year’s resolutions and toasts to the future, holiday parties provide our relatives with just the perfect moment – since we’ve only got four months of school left and we should be thinking about this anyway (thanks Mom and Dad) –  to drop the bomb that has and will echo for generations: “So, what are your plans for after graduation?”

We choke a little on a forced smile and rub our hands together and start to say, “Well, I -” when our uncle, chewing on some sophisticated, ‘it’s-an-acquired-taste’ appetizer, butts in: “Ready for the real world?”

And there. He’s said it.

The name of our arch enemy and our most mysterious ally, the thing that for four years we have tried to prepare for, that we have feared and hoped for, the impending situation acknowledged only between friends in moments of whispered desperation or breathless expectation: the real world.

But I say to you now, four months later and on this, our graduation day: we are experiencing a kind of temporal bottleneck of our shared knowledge, achievements and incredible potential stopped up only by that nagging cork, ‘the real world.’ Why not pop that cork and flow forth our sparkling and bubbling ideas, the fruits of our hours spent on research in Du Bois and Morrill, in clubs, athletics and student leadership, on building relationships with our professors, mentors and each other, ideas that will one day shape human experience.

Because we have been given a world mired in economic and political strife, marred by war and the pursuit of peace, and maybe even a little scarred by lesser evils like ‘YOLO’ or ‘Gangnam Style.’

Yes, we have been left the ‘real’ world: real messed up.

And so it is our destiny to go out into that world, to fulfill ourselves, to reach our full potential, and in doing so make that real world a part of us. In short, real awesome.

We are compelled by the duty inherent in our education to go out and improve on what came before, to serve a greater good so that for those sitting here in 2023, ‘the real world,’ might be a little less daunting.

And that means leaving this place not fearlessly, no never fearlessly, but boldly, and with the knowledge that our footsteps echo with the boom of 5,000 others. We, the Class of 2013, will step out together into that real world because “We were, we are, UMass.” And no longer simply UMass, but a mass, a fellowship, a sodality of young adults equipped, inspired and ready to tackle that immense task which has been left to us: the real world.

Melissa Mahoney was the editor of the Collegian’s Opinion/Editorial section and is a graduating senior. She can be reached at mmahoney@student.umass.edu.

Comments
One Response to “The unheard Commencement speech”
  1. Lauren Vaughn says:

    Loved it melissa! so glad i got to read it one way or the other!

Leave A Comment