Baccalaureate Elizabethtown College 2017

Baccalaureate Elizabethtown College 2017


– It is my pleasure to welcome all of you and most particularly the
members of the class of 2017 to this baccalaureate service. (audience cheering and clapping) Tonight’s service is for
seniors and led by seniors. We will hear from athletes,
musicians, and actors, from future teachers,
therapists, news reporters, future international finance leaders, and social entrepreneurs. We will hear from
idealists and pragmatists, debaters, activists, and lovers of peace. We will hear from Jewish
students and Christian students, atheists, and humanists. All of them practitioners of service with great potential
for future leadership. The theme for tonight’s
service is do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly. And we gather on this eve of commencement to celebrate the love
of family and friends, to reflect on just how far
we’ve journeyed in four years. We gather tonight to be challenged at this particular time in the
history of our nation with a vision of shared
discourse and unity of purpose across the boundaries of race
and politics and religion to ponder what it truly
means to love one another and to work for justice
for all in this world. (audience clapping) – I will be reading from Micah chapter six verses six to eight. With what shall I come before the Lord and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before Him
with burnt offerings? With calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased
with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first
born for my transgression, the fruit of my body
for the sin of my soul? He has told you oh mortal what is good and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God. – Good evening everyone, my
name is Ariel Davis-Robinson and I’m a senior psychology
major and I’ll be sharing with you how my experiences
here at Elizabethtown College have taught me to love family and friends. Being here in this space
has helped me to open my heart to many people and learn about and love them unconditionally. Without the eclectic population at Etown I would not have had
the opportunity to meet a large array of unique individuals. I believe it is essential
to have a strong support system of family and friends
because life is challenging and getting through it
alone is very difficult. In my experience, it has taken a village of people to raise me
and without their love I would not be where I am today. I’ve learned from my
experiences at Elizabethtown College that family is
not just biological. It is someone you have
made a connection with that will last a lifetime. Even when you hit a rough
patch or you don’t have daily contact with them. Take NOIR for example,
which for those of you who don’t know is a diversity
student union on campus. Which was founded by
Aunt Rachel who graduated from Elizabethtown in 2006. I have had the honor of
serving as it’s president for the last three years and I’m grateful that I could watch it grown
in both size and outreach. (clearing throat loudly) Excuse me. The goal of NOIR has
always been to promote inclusivity, social justice, and expose individuals to world views
that differ from their own. That group of amazing people
shares a bond so close because of the time invested in each other and the work we accomplish together. And that bond will
remain intact long after each of us have graduated. And it’s just one part of
why I love my Etown family with all my heart. My roommates, my mentees,
my professors and staff, and everyone who I’ve
connected with since day one. The love of our family and friends is crucial to the growth
of us as individuals and to the group because
it keeps us together through any adversity we may face. I ask that each of you reflect of where you would be today if it weren’t for that love and support from
your family and friends that helped you get through life. And tonight I say congratulations
to the class of 2017. And remember that you
have made it this far by helping and loving each other. And as Andrea Gurney said,
“You have paid your dues “now go out there and do
something remarkable.” Thank you. (audience clapping) – Good evening. So to my fellow graduates, our families, and our adored friends,
I stand here before you aware of the similarities
that we all share. I know that you, like myself are probably feeling the same things that I am. Pride, accomplishment, closure, regret, and hopeful outlook on the future. As well as a bit of
anxiety over this thing that we’ve been referring to as adulting. But I feel like that’s
something that I don’t need to elaborate on,
instead I want to share something personal,
something that’s helped shape my college career as well as my overall outlook on life. You see I’ve always had
this tendency to assume that change when it happens
can only be for the worse. And over these last four years, I’ve come to realize that isn’t quite true. It seems that whatever is
out there waiting for me, while it may be difficulty,
failure, or loss may also have a flip side
of growth and development. During my sophomore year
I lost two of the people closest to me, my father
and my best friend. And while these two
precious people will never ever be replaced, I still miss them very much every day in different ways, as I’m sure many of you who have lost loved ones feel as well. But whether we’re separated by
death or merely by distance, I know that they’re still with me because I keep them in my heart. And know looking back on it, I can say that losing my father
gave me a renewed sense of purpose and a reason to
continue through college. It’s part of the reason that
I’m here with you all today. And having my best friend
transfer and leave Etown, brought six irreplaceable lifelong friends into my life as well as
many countless others. With moving on into the real world and leaving this place that
we’ve been calling home for the past four years,
we should be reminded not only of the positives
of change but also that if you believe in yourself even when the odds seem stacked against
you, anything is possible. Both are lessons that
we learned here at Etown and if you haven’t, I at least have. So no matter where you go and no matter where life takes you,
big cities, small towns, just remember that although you may come across small minds, people who think that they’re better than you or
think that material things or being pretty or popular
automatically makes you a worthwhile human being, remember that none of those things
matter unless you have strength of character,
integrity, sense of self, a strong sense of pride,
and in the same vein when you meet somebody for the first time, please done judge them
by their station of life because you never know, that person might end up just being your best friend. In closing, I want to
remind you to remember each other on the road ahead. Remember the good times and
some of the not so good times. Because the truth is,
in time that’s all we’re going to be to each other,
just a population of memories, someone wonderful and
endearing and some less so, but when they’re taking
together these memories help make us who we are, who we were, and who we will be. So I hope that no matter
where your travels lead you and no matter how many
things around you change, you’ll always take Etown and
all of it’s lessons with you. Thank you. (audience clapping) – Good evening, my name is Irene Snyder. I’m a senior, we’re all seniors
but house communications, sociology anthropology,
double major here at Etown. So personally my faith has always been the foundation for my life. I grew up in a household
where we went to church every single Sunday. But even outside of church and
during my time here at Etown, I’ve learned the importance of having true faith and trusting in God. That even when things seem dark, there’s always a light somewhere. You have to trust that there’s
a plan greater than all of us that we can even begin to comprehend. In high school I didn’t see myself as a broadcast news reporter, which is the career that I now plan to pursue. Or majoring in sociology anthropology, which I ended up doing as well. But long story short, I ended up here and although there were
challenges along the road I wouldn’t have had it any other way. There’s a plan for everything. That also goes along with
the idea of having hope. When you’re unsure of the future, you’re doubting yourself or you don’t know what you’ll be doing after graduation, have hope in this greater plan. Another value that I
hold in life in addition to faith and hope is love kindness. And this doesn’t necessarily
mean love in the romantic sense but rather we should love and care for everyone regardless of
their background or beliefs. It involves devoting
one’s life to the service and betterment of others. Through the guidance of mentors and all my other experiences at
Etown, I’ve discovered that career wise what I want to do in my life is to be a news reporter. And that’s not because
I want my face on TV but because I want to
hear people’s stories and to be a part of sharing those stories with others through the news medium. And that’s what I believe
my mission in life is. We devote our time and
energy toward this notion of love kindness and also
having faith and hope. I believe that we’ll lead
truly successful lives regardless of the money we
make or positions we hold. A close mentor of mine
here at Etown, Dr. Coz sent a card to me when I
was in her Simple Living first your seminar. And written inside that
card was a quote by Abraham Lincoln that said, “Whatever you are, be a good one.” I’d like to thank Dr.
Coz for teaching me what it truly means to live a life of kindness and service to others as
well as my communication advisor Dr. Kirsten
Johnson for encouraging me to be a news reporter
and to pursue my goal and my purpose in life. And last but certainly
not least, my parents for the lifelong support
and for teaching me to always remain strong in my faith. Each one of us in the
class of 2017 is achieving this milestone in our lives,
in part due to the love of family, as well as the support of wonderful faculty and staff mentors. Let’s take a moment and
give a round of applause to all of our family and mentors. Thank you. (audience clapping) ♫ All we are, we have found in song ♫ You have drawn this song from us ♫ Songs of lives unfolding fly overhead ♫ Cry overhead longing,
rising from the song within ♫ Moving like the rise and fall of wings ♫ Hands that shape our calling voice ♫ On the edge of answers
you’ve heard our cry ♫ You’ve known our cry ♫ Music’s fierce compassion flows from you ♫ The night is restless
with the sounds we hear ♫ Is broken, shaken by the cries of pain ♫ For this is music’s inner voice ♫ Saying, yes, we hear you ♫ All you who cry aloud ♫ And we will fly, answering you ♫ So our lives sing, sing ♫ Wild we will fly, wild
in spirit we will fly ♫ Like a feather falling from the wing ♫ Fragile as a human voice ♫ Afraid, uncertain, alive
to love, we sing as love ♫ Afraid, uncertain, yet
our flight begins as song (audience clapping) – Hello everyone. When I think about the time
we shared at Elizabethtown College, my mind creates a visual graph. As a disclaimer, I am an OT major. Certainly not a math
major and nor will I ever claim to understand math
as well as I should. But I have come to
realize that I’m picturing the college process in
a parabola or a u shape. For those of you who are
probably tuning out at this moment due to your scarring
memories of calculus class, I ask for your patience as
I promise that was my last mention of anything math related. The first part of the
curve represents our first few days or even semesters
at Elizabethtown. For many of us our
primary college objectives we’re pretty simple, meet
our roommates, impress our peers, sign up for all the
right clubs, and make friends. It was a time where we focused on the similarities and differences. For many of us we spent
much of our early days at college finding our niche. It was a way of testing out the waters, figuring out what pathways will support your clear future and
ideals you have in mind. In the beginning we might
have thought of college as being a small part
of our life checklist where in the end we get
that incredible job. Little do we know how much of an impact these four years would make. But after some time the drop eventually happens in our u. We realize that our initial friend group may not be the best fit for us. Or perhaps we took a few
classes in our majors and we discovered that we
aren’t succeeding in them. Or perhaps we don’t even
like our majors at all. Our beliefs may have been challenged and we may have started to see the flaws within our own political ideologies. We may have even found that our faith, which was of utmost importance
to meaning to our life, was not as influential as it once was. I believe we have all
experienced that drop, that moment when we begin
to understand that maybe we don’t really understand
anything at all. But after hitting our lowest
point on the college journey, we begin to pave that upward
path toward reconciliation. We begin to accept that
your drop has caused you to think harder,
see a new perspective, believe and perhaps
change or further confirm your course of action. Maybe we won’t be working
that job with the huge paycheck that we had
originally planned for, but I’m sure I speak
for all of us when I say that we’ve discovered a
few topics that really engage our inner passion. We have reached the end of our parabola here at Elizabethtown College and though our educational
journey was surely not perfect through it we have acquired
an acceptance of who we are and where our passions
may lead us forward. We have found those issues
that really excite us. Whether that be causes of social justice or how to live in meaningful humility. And we have also realized a
little bit more about ourselves through friendships and through coursework and through fellow teammates. And I’m rather certain
that as we move forward and take all of our challenges
and changes with us, our parabolas will only
continue to grow from here. Thank you. (audience clapping) – Friends, family, faculty,
and the entire class of 2017. I want to tell you about the most terrifying moment of my life. May 4, 2015, finals
were quickly approaching and my stress level was through the roof. My motivation was quickly dropping and sophomore slump was an understatement. My two best friends and I decided to spend the afternoon outside studying
to motivate ourselves. As music majors it’s a
very rare occurrence for us to live the basement of
ZUG, so I was excited. We settled underneath the
true just outside the library. The pink one that when
it blooms, I can feel my heart burst from the sheer
joy of spring’s arrival. You’re probably wondering
how this scene is the stage of the most
terrifying moment of my life. I’m positive that in that
moment I had no inkling that what it would become. The three of us spent
hours under that tree to the point we couldn’t
focus on our work anymore. It was decided we would take a break. For them it meant napping in the Sun, and for me it meant sitting
under the tree people watching. Out of nowhere I had this thought. You could get up and leave
and they wouldn’t notice, they wouldn’t even miss you. As quickly as that thought came to mind, it was replaced by another. Of course they’d miss you. It’s not acceptable to
just disappear anymore, these people will miss you. That right there, that was the most terrifying moment of my life. The realization these
people cared about me, might even miss me when I wasn’t around. I was hit with this sudden
and incredible responsibility to know I’d be disappointing
them by disappearing was a weight I could not bear. Because I already knew
I loved these people. I already knew I would
miss them when they left, and would worry when they were gone. But this was the first
moment when I realized they might just feel
the same way about me. In that moment it was
scarier to have people that care about me than
to have nobody at all. And that day I figured
out I owe it to the people who loved me to now disappear. Not just physically but emotionally. And because of this
newfound motivation to stick around and be loved, I
spent the next two years learning how to love myself too. That’s the message I want to
share with you, my classmates as we go out into the world. Please do not be afraid to
love and be loved in return. These moments, the one in
which you trust someone with a piece of your heart
will be some of the most frightening you ever experience. But they will also be some
of the most rewarding. I’ve given away many pieces
of my heart since that day and it does not get easier. The underlying fear is
and always will be valid, but to push past that
fear, that’s courage. To allow others to care
for you, that’s bravery. And to look at your people and decide no matter how hard it
gets you are not leaving, that’s love. Thank you. (audience clapping) – If we have learned
anything over the last year, it is probably an acute
sense of our differences. It is probably cliche to know that we all come from different backgrounds, we speak different languages, we
have different religions, different colors of skin, and we have different ways of expressing
how and who we love. Despite these differences,
one similarity we all share is that we are all
graduating tomorrow morning from Elizabethtown
college and that gives us one basic point of connection. Recognizing and learning
about our diverse backgrounds, interests, experiences, and
passions was one of the most important opportunities
provided over our four years. Whether or not you took advantage of it. Perhaps you studied abroad,
attended multicultural programming, or just took core classes with people you didn’t
know, I hope you met someone or learned something
new that challenged you and took you out of your comfort zone. Tomorrow we leave a small community and enter a broad diverse world. No matter where we end
up, we will meet people who have unique
perspectives and experiences in the world that differ than we do. These diverse perspectives and experiences bring beauty and strength in the face of the world’s challenges. If there’s one thing to
take from this experience other than our degree, which I think many of us will take with
us whether we like it or not in the form of monthly
payments to the US government, we must remember that those differences are a gift and have the
ability to make our world a vibrant, peaceful, and whole place where together we solve problems, support each other,
learn, laugh, and grow. These experiences are
not always obvious so we must actively seek and accept the chance to challenge ourselves and our beliefs and our time after Elizabethtown. If I could leave a challenge for everyone, students and parents, faculty, it would be to seek out
people who differ from you, listen to them, and learn about their experiences in the world. Try different foods, travel
to different countries, speak out and create space for diverse people to use their voices. We are all graduating
from Elizabethtown College and because of this privilege
we have the opportunity and more importantly the
responsibility to make just, caring, and supportive environments wherever we go and welcoming
diversity is one of the most basic steps in
creating such environments. Thank you. (audience clapping) ♫ I hope the day has come
easy and the moments pass slow ♫ And each road leads
you where you wanna go ♫ And if you’re faced with a
choice and you have to choose ♫ I hope you choose the one
that means the most to you ♫ And if one door opens
to another door closed ♫ I hope you keep on walking
til you find a window ♫ If it’s cold outside show ♫ The world the warmth of your smile ♫ More than anything, more than anything ♫ My wish for you is that this life comes ♫ All that you want it to ♫ Your dreams stay big,
your worries stay small ♫ You never need to carry
more than you can hold ♫ And while you’re out there
getting where you’re getting to ♫ I hope you know somebody loves you ♫ And wants the same things too ♫ Yeah this is my wish ♫ I hope you never look
back but you never forget ♫ All the ones who loved
you in the place you left ♫ I hope you always forgive
and you never regret ♫ And you help somebody
every chance you get ♫ We find God’s grace in every mistake ♫ And always give more than you take ♫ But more than anything ♫ More than anything ♫ My wish for you is that this life ♫ Becomes all that you want it to ♫ Your dreams stay big,
your worries stay small ♫ You never need to carry
more than you can hold ♫ While you’re out there
getting where you’re getting to ♫ I hope you know somebody loves you ♫ And wants the same things too ♫ Yeah this is my wish ♫ My wish for you is
that this life becomes ♫ All that you want it to ♫ Your dreams stay big,
your worries stay small ♫ You never need to carry
more than you can hold ♫ And while you’re out there getting ♫ Where you’re getting to ♫ I hope you know somebody loves you ♫ And wants the same things too ♫ Yeah this is my wish (audience clapping) – Good evening folks, my
name is Kevin Gorenberg and I’ve had the please of
serving as the president of the Elizabethtown College Hillel for the past three years. And I’ll be sharing with you tonight a passage from the Talmud. Be wise not only in words but in deeds. Mere knowledge is not the goal but action. Know the God of your fathers
and serve him by your deeds. Let not your wisdom exceed
your deeds lest you be like a tree with many
branches but few roots. If the thoughts of your heart be pure, it is likely that so will
be the works of your hands. Accustom yourself to do good, before long it will become your chief delight. One good deed leads to another as every evil deed leads
to more wrong doing. If others do good through you, their deeds will be
accounted to you as your own. Though it is not incumbent
upon you to complete the work, you are not free from doing
all that you possibly can. Judge a man by his deeds and you will be not lead to false judgment. Say little and do much, for by your deeds shall you be judged. If you’re a wise and
rich, let your good deeds reveal your wisdom and your wealth. Honor a man for what he is but honor him more for what he does. Honor a man not for his possessions alone but honor him most for
the use he makes of them. When a man departs this
world, neither silver nor gold nor precious stones accompany him. He is remembered only for his love of learning and his good deeds. Happy is the man who
is rich in good deeds, for he shall be honored in life and remembered long
afterwards for his goodness. Thank you. (audience clapping) – Good evening, faculty,
staff, parents, friends, and most importantly the class of 2017. Over the past four years we’ve
all taken different paths to get to this final
destination, graduation. We’ve all taken different experiences, made fascinating stories,
amazing friendships and unforgettable memories. We were able to make it
through the challenging times, celebrate the triumphs, and
I’ll be the first to admit survived the few stress
induced crying sessions. We’ve all worked hard
these last four years and I commend each and everyone of you for making it to this momentous moment. Elizabethtown College has a
special place in our hearts. During our time here we’ve
learned the importance of kindness and the influence it can have on the others around us. Whether it be something
as simple as holding a door for someone we do not know or going on a service
trip with the school, Elizabethtown College
has given us the tools to become extraordinary people. Kindness is a trait that
everyone knows about but Elizabethtown College students are some of the most
giving students I have met. In today’s society people
underestimate the power of kindness and how the smallest things can make a huge impact on another’s life. I just want to share a quick
personal story with you all. During my sophomore year
I was required to do community service project
for one of my classes which involved working with
the elderly population. Although I’m close with my grandmother, I was a bit hesitant working so closely with this elderly stranger. Now over a year and a
half later I continue volunteering with my
resident, visiting her weekly. As we talk about the simplest of things, as what I will be cooking for dinner to the complex saga of
my love life. (laughs) Even with a busy schedule
I always try to visit her because it might seem
like an hour out of my day to visit a 95 year old woman
but to her it means the world. Although not everyone has
had the same experience, I know that Elizabethtown
has impacted each and every one of you to become a more caring person. Small acts of kindness are never unseen and although they seem as if they feel they’re being unnoticed, they are always impacting others positively. As we prepare to leave the
desk and spread our wings and know that everyone here
will be able to change the world one small act of kindness at a time. I’m so grateful that I was
a part of the Elizabethtown College community as it has
given me the opportunity to learn how powerful small
acts of kindness truly are. Congratulations class of 2017,
I wish you the best of luck in the future and I know that you will all do something big in your future to impact the would and make it a kinder place. Thank you. (audience clapping) – Good morning, just
making sure your awake. (audience laughing) So I just wanted to share with everyone the reason why I’m here at
Elizabethtown College today. So here I go. Walking with God and
following His teachings and talking to Him
daily, helps me to strive for a more fulfilling and
less volatile existence. He helps me realize my
shortcomings in a way that’s healthy and doesn’t
lead me to be discouraged but rather to aim for more. Knowing Him gives me a reason to work hard to become all He has planned for me. At the age of 10, I had no idea what the purpose of my life
would be like most 10 year olds. And it was at this age
that I begin to struggle with chronic pain which I
still cope through today. My pastor at the time
counseled me through my pain by reading the book of Job with me. The story of Job showed
me for the first time that sometimes there’s a
reason for our hardships. This gave me the motivation
to work to regain functional mobility and
find ways to cope through the pain rather than
feeling sorry for myself. I began an outpatient intensive
rehabilitation program at the Children’s
Hospital of Philadelphia, which my parents had been
encouraging me to start for months, but it
wasn’t until reading Job that the strength and
motivation to push myself to find a way to regain function emerged. This program was the
hardest thing I’ve ever done and I wanted to quit at
least 18 times a day. But there was a voice
in my head telling me that it had big plans for me
and to push through the pain. I did push through and
was discharged able to tolerate taking a shower,
walk, and run again. Which is one of the biggest
achievements in my life. I know I never would
have been able to do it without God walking me through it. The treatment helped
me regain my functional abilities but I was still in intense pain. While at CHOP God put
me in touch with amazing therapists and friends who convinced me to pursue a career in occupational therapy. And here I am five years later graduating with my bachelor’s in
health and occupation. By having the experience
of being a patient with severe disability, I
can relate to my patients on a deep level which helps
me to serve them better. I never would be here
today if I didn’t have chronic pain or if God didn’t walk me through that experience. His strength has become my strength and He has surrounded me with
people who believe in me. My pain has played a huge
role in forming my future as an occupational therapist
and for that I’m grateful. The Lord’s grace has saved me
and given me purpose in life. My pain has given me a deeper relationship with my Lord and Savior, who at times is the only one I could
turn to with my suffering. I know my suffering doesn’t come anywhere close to Job’s but his
story has inspired me to become a disciple
of Christ and not allow my suffering to tear
me away from His love. And the motto, educate for service is why I chose Elizabethtown
College as a perfect school to educate me in occupational therapy. Thank you. (audience clapping) – Mothers and fathers of
Elizabethtown, I’d like to begin by apologizing to you. While you my have thought that
you sent us to Elizabethtown College to prepare us
to enter the workforce, we came here for something else entirely. We came to Elizabethtown
College not to learn about what we want to be when we grow up but rather to learn about
who we want to be today. We thought we were coming
here to learn how to be engineers, teachers, or a
variety of other professions but we learned that
there are more important things in life than getting
a job and making money. Elizabethtown taught us the
importance of serving others. Educate for service is
a phrase that has been repeated to us since the
time we were freshman. When we first heard this
phrase, we did not know just how important these
words would become to us or what exactly they meant. We assumed that this phrase
meant we would go get jobs, help others by doing those jobs. We want to help others and
make a difference in the world. We soon realized that
would be a little bit more complicated than this. Changing the world can
be a daunting task that many people spend a lifetime trying to achieve with no success. This is because many people do not realize that the only thing they
can change is themselves. An unknown person once said, “When I was an young man I
wanted to change the world. “I found it was difficult
to change the world “so I tried to change my nation. “When I found I couldn’t
change the nation, “I began to focus on my town. ” I couldn’t change the
town, as an older man “I tried to change my family. “Now as an old man I
realize the only thing “that I can change is myself. “And suddenly I realized
that if long ago I had “changed myself, I could’ve
made an impact on my family. “My family and I could have
made an impact on our town. “Their impact could
have changed the nation “and I indeed could
have changed the world.” Elizabethtown College
has given us the tools to change ourselves but
it’s up to us to use them to serve others and to change the world. Tomorrow you will wake up
on campus for the last time before entering the real world. You’ll have a decision to
make, who do I want to be today you’ll ask yourself. How you answer that question tomorrow and each day after that
will have the potential to change the world around you. Mothers and fathers, I
promise we’ll go get jobs and pay off our student
loans, but that is not the only reason we chose to
attend Elizabethtown College. Thank you. (audience clapping) ♫ I will sing of God’s mercy ♫ Everyday every hour he gives me power ♫ I will sing and give thanks to thee ♫ For all the dangers, toils, and snares ♫ That he has brought me out ♫ He is my God and I’ll serve Him ♫ No matter what the test ♫ Trust and never doubt ♫ Jesus will surely bring you out ♫ He never failed me yet ♫ I Know God is able ♫ To deliver in time of storm ♫ And I know that He’ll keep you ♫ Safe from all earthly harm ♫ One day when my weary soul is at rest ♫ I’m going home to be forever blessed ♫ Trust and never doubt ♫ Jesus will surely bring you out ♫ He never failed me yet ♫ I will sing of God’s mercy ♫ Every day every hour ♫ He gives me power ♫ I will sing and give thanks to thee ♫ For all the dangers, toils, and snares ♫ He has brought me out ♫ He is my God and I serve Him ♫ No matter what the test ♫ Trust and never doubt ♫ Jesus will surely bring you you ♫ He never failed me yet ♫ He never failed me ♫ He never failed me yet ♫ He never failed me ♫ He never failed me yet ♫ He never failed me ♫ He never failed me yet ♫ He never failed me ♫ He never failed me yet ♫ Trust and never doubt ♫ Jesus will surely bring you out ♫ He never failed me yet (audience clapping) – Over the last four years
I have learned many things. From basic life skills to how to construct a bird suit out of a table
cloth and a bunch of napkins. (audience laughing) Perhaps the most important
thing I’ve learned however is to walk in humility. Granted that I’ve never been one to revel in my own achievements. As a musician and future
therapists for example, I never have and never will
find perfection in my art. Moreover as an over
focused individual I see pride and revelry in
personal achievement as something to be set aside
for the greater good. This speaks of humility
in the traditional sense relating to humbleness and modesty, the rejection of pride. I have found that humility
has more to it than just this. I have found that to walk in humility is to also walk in acceptance. Acceptance of differences,
acceptance of disagreements, and acceptance of all that makes us human. The world at large is
terrifyingly polarized and America is no exception. We are not only plagued with international disputes but also civil ones that are rooted in people’s fundamental
values and principles. These differences although
frustrating at times are part of the human condition and should be loved and accepted and respected. Not beaten against each other
in a battle for rightness. For the last four years
we have all been able to exist somewhere that
with little exception is accepting of these differences. As respecting of all beliefs, I feel we have had incredible privilege. For when we leave the
bask of Elizabethtown we may find ourselves in a
less accepting environment. And we may have to face these differences, unpleasant as they may be. We may have to accept that
our detractors beliefs are as firmly grounded as
our own and that they may not sway or change even upon
reaching a mutual understanding. We may have to accept that
coexistence can be difficult. But I believe there is a way. We coexist through humility my friends. We coexist by having the
wisdom to listen and the common sense to step down through
our ideological high horses and discuss our beliefs on even ground. To coexist peacefully we must be willing to understand and respect all perspectives and to lie down our
own opinions and biases in the name of a greater good so that we can work to compromise. To coexist we must enter
a conflict with humility. For without humility we can
never hope to understand that no one point of view is more valid and no one opinion is more
important than the rest. To coexist and build
peace is to understand and respect one another, and we cannot do this without being
open, willing, and humble. So in the real world when conflicts arise simply remember the words of
the great modern philosopher Kendrick Lamar, (laughs) “Sit down, be humble, for
only then can we make peace.” Thank you. (audience clapping) – We, the Elizabethtown class of 2017 have our whole lives ahead of us. And our graduation from college marks a new chapter in our lives. It is up to us what
words we choose to write in this chapter and we
have the opportunity to feel the pages with
great purpose and meaning. We should challenge
ourselves to do justice, love kindness, and walk
humbly with our God. The beauty of the next
chapter is that’s it’s blank and we can feel this
next chapter in our lives with great things because
we’ve already begun. Etown has challenged us
to grow as individuals, to push ourselves to serve
others, to step out of our comfort zone, and to succeed
in ways we never imagined. This past chapter of our
lives that we’ve written as Etown students is
unique for each one of us. Some of us have studied
abroad, had internships, completed research and Capstone courses, played sports, gone into
the streets to volunteer, overslept for a class,
submitted a paper minutes before and hopefully not after the deadline, and eating to much in the marketplace and the list goes on. But college is a learning
experience right? We’ve learned more than we know and our experiences have taught
us more than we can imagine. Our professors have
supported us and guided us and calmed our nerves when we didn’t think we could possibly get it
done in all four years, and I’m speaking from experience here. What’s important is how we
use everything we have learned in these past four
years and what we filled our past chapters with and how we’re gonna write our next chapter. I’m sure we will learn from our mistakes and never oversleep for work or never cut a deadline too close. So how will we write our next chapter? I challenge you all class
of 2017, myself included, to do justice, love kindness,
and walk humbly with our God. The beauty in this is
that will look different for each one of us but
we have the ability, knowledge, and experiences
to do such great things. Let’s make this chapter of
our lives the best one yet. Let’s go change the
world and use our talents to make it a better place. We all know that there’s no where quite as friendly and wonderful as Etown. But we’re bluejays so
let’s go spread our wings and share our kindness, our humility, and our commitment to God,
to light, and to truth, the Deus Lux et Veritas
of our college seal wherever we go through all
the chapters in our lives. (audience clapping) – Good evening. It was nine years ago
when my brother and I arrived in the United
States from Thailand. This time not as tourist but as students. Our lives changed
drastically for the better when we accepted the scholarship at the high school we attended and then again at Elizabethtown College. We initially struggled to the new culture, education system, and the language, even though we thought we had
a good grasp of the language. We exposed ourselves to the challenges, overcame our homesickness,
and eventually excelled. The process to where we got
today was an arduous one and one to be thankful for. Some might title my
journey as a success story, but I see it as a
collaboration of many people providing me the opportunities to have the experience and
education in United States. I ponder as I write this speech on how one determines success. Success in today’s society might be based on the amount of money you
make, the school you go to, or even the brand of the car you drive. I must admit that as I
gain more accomplishments, experience, and milestones in life, I sometimes decide on what
real life success mean. I remind myself that success is much more than the external, qualitive, and quantitative accomplishments. What about internal value,
ethical and moral success. Are we a better person
than we were yesterday or when we first started college? As a society we has succumb
to walk in the direction deemed by others as good and
essentially we are living life in order to belong
in the norms of society. In many ways being in the United States for half of my life taught me more than just the education itself. It has taught me and help me reflect on the importance of
the greater community, those that are worse off
than us, and those that have contributed before and doing
my time in the United States. Just as Elizabethtown has
emphasized on the essence of educating for service. Most importantly I’ve
learned more than ever to stay grounded to virtue
and live a humble life. With less than 48 hours
left in the United States, it is difficult to describe my feelings on how my time in the country and how the people I met along
the way have impacted me. Without my parents and
brothers and their support, love, and vision, I would
not have been standing here. Without the kindness and compassion from my high school teachers and staff to Elizabethtown College
professors and friends, I might not have the chance
to call the United States home and to be thankful for the opportunities many other wish they had as well. As we receive a diploma tomorrow, I urge everyone to continue
to strive along with me in order to achieve what I
call the diploma of life. A diploma that is not based
on quantitative metrics or certain social standards,
but one that is based on good will, good
citizenship, most importantly one that is judged by your own integrity. No matter how successful you become beyond college, remember to
succeed in your core values. Never limit yourself to past success for it is not long lasting
and does not define who you are today. Never forget your roots
and where you started since one success was contributed by many. Thank you and congratulations
class of 2017. (audience clapping) – The class of 2017 has
left a lasting impression here at Elizabethtown College through our fundraising efforts,
our class unity events, and our very successful
class gift campaign. As we prepare to pass on the flame to next year’s class, we now invite the officers of the class
of 2018 to come forward. – We the officers of the class of 2017, are about the pass on the
mantle of leadership to you, the officers of the class of 2018. We want to remind you
that in countless ways the senior class members shape the climate of the campus and determine the experience that underclassmen will have
here at Elizabethtown College. This is an awesome responsibility and not to be taken lightly. – The senior class officers
are responsible for taking leadership and shaping
a positive environment for intellectual, social,
emotional, physical, and spiritual growth on campus. The senior class officers
lead the senior class in working to create a
campus that truly educates for service and is also an enjoyable place to live for four years. If you the officers of the class of 2018 are willing to accept this responsibility, please say we will. – [2018 Officers] We will. – This large candle that has been burning throughout the service
represents the light of the class of 2017 has shown
at Elizabethtown College. As we light the candles of the officers we now officially pass the mantle of leadership to the class of 2018. This large candle also
represents the light that the members of the class of 2017 will shed on the world as
we end our journey here at Elizabethtown and step into the future. We will now begin the
candle lighting ceremony. (audience talking) Four years ago, at our
first year induction we shared a litany and
lit candles in the dow as we said hello to each other
and to Elizabethtown College. Tonight as we prepare to say
farewell to our college years, I invite all the members
of the class of 2017 to stand as we read
together one more time. (audience talking) Will the seniors please join me in reading the senior
litany in your program. Over the last four years,
we the class of 2017 have shared a journey. – [All] We celebrate the knowledge we have gained through our coursework and the correct choices we have made. – [Speaker On Stage] Tonight we stand on the threshold of a new adventure. – [All] As we prepare for a new journey, in a world full of uncertainty
and great possibility. – We remember that the
college seal calls for Deus Lux et Veritas and
the college motto is educate for service. – [All] We reaffirm our commitment to God, light, truth, and service. – Throughout our lives
let us continue our quest for knowledge, justice, and truth. – [All] Let us always
remember that the light of ages shines unwavering,
even in the midst of darkness. – You may be seated. Immediately following the benediction, we invite you to continue the celebration with hopefully more
conversation, live music, and food as we begin
reflections by the lake. In order to find it, you need to see it and only go out the front door. Will you join me in the benediction. Divine spirit, you who
call us from within, we walk out of this space
awakening to a new day. One of responsibility and
freedom, grief and joy, uncertainty and hope. As we go forward to
give, to serve, to live out our strengths, may we seek out mercy. May we embody justice. May we walk in humble truth,
eyes toward the future, carried by the love that has sustained us and living into the hope which further moves us into our best
selves with each new step. Amen.

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