It’s that time of year for things to end, people graduating all across the country, but it’s also that time for moving on to new beginnings. I’m sure if you’ve had the pleasure of attending a graduation (either yours or of a loved one) you might have her some words you needed but you might also be over the whole speech thing.
I had the honor of being chosen to be the graduate speaker at my department convocation this past week. Someone who heard my speech asked me to post this. I hope you find something in it that you need dear reader, perhaps today I, too, need to read these words again as I grow anxious, excited, and fearful of what awaits me as well.
We begin with thanks. Thank you to our families, friends, faculty, and esteemed colleagues for taking time out of your lives to be here to share this milestone with your loved ones. For my classmates, I would like to congratulate you all on your accomplishment in finishing your coursework, getting your degree, and being here today. For some of us the path to get here may have been carefully calculated, another planned step on a path we laid out for ourselves. For others our arrival at this day may have happened haphazardly, as if we fell into it. But, there are no coincidences and no accidents in life.
We are all here for a purpose.
As we have progressed on this journey of life many of us entered it with dreams of what we would like to happen. In our beginnings a seed of desire was planted, whether it was becoming a professor, a mentor, an academic, or a writer. But along our journeys, sometimes these dreams had to take different and often unexpected shapes such as a break from coursework or a program, years off from school, working in jobs we may have resented like Starbucks, waitressing, or Wal-Mart, or perhaps working in positions that just didn’t feel like quite the right fit. But, everything that has happened to us has happened for a reason, each scrape, scuffle, break has helped form us into the people we are today. All those twists and turns on our paths have gotten us here.
Somewhere along your journey you ended up in Albuquerque studying at The University of New Mexico where you’ve earned a degree and made lifelong friends, but we’ve reached the end of this part, this time, in our plans. Sometimes you have to leave things behind in order to embrace the new life the ahead of you.
We are blessed to be sitting here today, on the verge of new beginnings. Some of us have concrete plans on what follows, fellowships, finishing our books, or teaching positions, yet others may be asking: What’s next?
The answer is different for each of us, in terms of location, profession, and titles. But what is certain to come for us all are trials, obstacles, and struggles. These will be put in our paths for a reason, to make us into the people we need to become, to test our commitment to our dreams.
If anything the path you each took to get to where you are today has hopefully taught you that every dream that’s in your heart has taken root there for a reason.
My mother always says that words are seeds, and that the seeds you sow over your life need to be positive. And these seeds must be watered with other positive people around you, situations that will build you up. Today, I’d like to share this final message, these words with you, hoping to plant a seed you can turn back to as you continue your journey beyond UNM and your degree.
Remember, as you let go of the old move forward in faith believing that you are being lead you down the path you were meant to follow. The Creator has an appointed time to fulfill the visions, dreams, and desires in your heart. Just because it has taken a long time or because you’ve tried and failed with some plans doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. My advice to you all today is: no matter what the future holds, no matter what’s next don’t give up on your dreams. Remember when you come against obstacles you can always change directions, but that doesn’t mean you change your destination. Don’t be complacent about pursuing what the Creator has placed in your heart. No matter how long it’s been, no matter how impossible things look, if you believe and have faith, then your time is coming.
When I thought of what message I wanted to leave you with, I thought of this: When it’s time for a young eagle to learn to fly, the mother eagle will push it from the nest and then fly underneath the young eagle to help it fly. This is how you need to be in your life. Surround yourself with people who will lift you up, just as the mother eagle lifts her baby.
Surround yourself with positive people, not people who are going to (or want you to) stay on the ground. Surround yourself with people who will help you fly because you each are meant to soar.
Finally, I turn to a quote my sister once told me: “When I stand before the Creator at the end of this life, I hope that I have not a single bit of talent left, and that I can say: ‘I used everything you gave me.'” My hopes and wishes for each of you is that you use all of your gifts, use everything you have been given. Keep believing in and remember: you are now a part of something bigger than yourself. May your sphere of influence continue to expand, may you be a great blessing to those around you, and may peace be with you.
As always, thank you for your presence reader. Without you, we writer folk would be nothing.