My Commencement Speech To The UNC Greensboro Class Of 2018

My Commencement Speech To The UNC Greensboro Class Of 2018

Can't stop the feeling!
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I first would like to say congratulations, you did it! I feel like I can speak for most of us when I say that this day seemed like light years away when we first started our journey at UNC Greensboro. But through the ups and downs, late night study sessions-or maybe the late nights we should have been studying, the caffeine, the need to watch netflix for a couple hours because there is no way you could read one more scholarly article, and all the tears and smiles in between, we are all finally getting one of the most amazing and well earned pieces of paper ever.

I also want to take a moment to remember the high school and college students and even some of our very own spartans who were members of the class of 2018 but due to violence, sickness, and unforeseen circumstances, are not with us today. The degree we are all receiving is as much theres as it is our’s.

Class of 2018, think back to your first day at UNC Greensboro. Parents, friends, and family members, think back to move in day or you student’s first day of classes. Do you remember that feeling? The feeling of curiosity and complete and utter fear? The eagerness coupled with anxiety? I can remember it like it was yesterday. But now think about how you are feeling right now. The feeling of accomplishment, the excitement, the pure joy, the relief. Parents, family members, and friends, I’m sure you’re feeling proud, happy, and maybe still a little nervous for your students jump into adulthood. But I urge you all to hold on to that feeling, remember this moment, and take it all in. These feelings and emotions are important and they are shaping this moment just like they shaped the experiences you’ve had at UNCG.

We all came from different places and somehow magically ended up in Greensboro. And though we each had a unique and special journey that led us to this point, there are many feelings we all shared. The feeling of warmth and welcome when you stepped on campus the first time. The joy when you received your acceptance letter. Being overwhelmed when you were at orientation. The feeling you had right after you bombed your first test. The comfort when you made your first friend. The nerves when you had to give your first speech or presentation. The curiosity when you experienced your first Fried Chicken Wednesday. Feeling accepted by your peers and professors for being exactly who you are. Being overjoyed when you received a “class cancellation” email. The feeling of security when something bad happened in the world and in less than 24 hours you got a message from the school saying they cared about you and that student safety was their number one priority. The happiness when you got an A on your first paper. The satisfaction when you turned in that assignment at 11:58pm. The accomplishment when you finished your first year. The feeling of excitement every time you get a “You’ve got mail” email from the post office. The confidence once you finally knew where every building was. The eagerness when you applied to graduate. The butterflies when you picked up your cap and gown. Feeling annoyed when your family was taking forever to get ready this morning. Feeling your cheeks cramp from smiling in so many pictures. And probably the feeling of wanting this speech to be over.

I know you don’t know me and I don’t know all of you. But we are all Spartans. We are all sitting in these seats today because we were all fortunate enough to get an education at one of the most amazing universities in the country. Take a second to look at the people you’re sitting next to. You might know them or you might not. You could disagree on a million things. But one thing you more than likely have to agree on is that this school changed you. This school made you the person you are today. UNC Greensboro gave you feelings you’ve never experienced before. I hope it gave you memories that will last a lifetime. I hope it taught you lessons you’ll never have to re-learn. I hope it gave you at least one person that you know will be by your side for years to come. I hope it gave you a home.

UNCG molded me into a person that I am proud to be. And although sadness doesn’t even begin to describe how I’m feeling to be closing this chapter in my life, I am hopeful. I am hopeful that myself and the rest of you will go out into the world spreading the Spartan Spirit and making the world better for us all. I am hopeful that the next generation of Spartan graduates will do the same. I am hopeful that the sweat, challenges, tears, road bumps, and full on mountains we all had to climb to get here were worth it. And I am hopeful that we will never forget the feelings. Congratulations class of 2018!

Cover Image Credit: UNCG

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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It's Time For You High Schoolers To Invest Your Time Into Your Careers

It may seem too early to specialize, but there will be a point where it's too late.

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If you're in high school, odds are you're approached by friends, family and more family about your plans after. For many of us, this can mean college. From convincing a college to admit you to convincing them to foot your entire tuition bill, you need to be marketable.

You should start with writing out your resume. Write it specifically oriented towards your career path. My resume, for example, is music themed. If you are anything like younger me, you might have a couple things that fit. I had marching band, concert band, honor band. But the majority might be things you signed up for to round yourself out.

A candidate too well rounded is directionless.

My participation in science club was fun, I will admit. But it didn't do much for me. It didn't teach me leadership, nor cooperation nor did it help with my career path.

High school is a lot more limited a time to both express and market yourself than you might think. Before I knew it, I was sitting in my junior year without much to my musical name.

If you have an extra curricular that you participate in because you enjoy it, you don't have to drop it. If you have developed as a person or as a leader, then it might even be something you can include in your list.

I just want to caution people from getting into the same situation I was in. I spent the first three years essentially of high school to feel out different areas, and this was too much time.

Productive uses of your after school time should be things you talk about when you say what sets you apart from other students in your field. And yes, this means you have to utilize tools outside of your school offerings most of the time.

When I go to apply for college and for musical internships, I plan on listing my participation in Atlanta CV (professional drum corps in DCA), high school marching band and marching band leadership, MAYWE (Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble, an auditioned honor band), GYSO (Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra), AYWS (Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony), Youth Bands of Atlanta, county honor band, jazz band, twice state applicant for Governor's Honors Program Music, JanFest music at UGA, the Academy of Science, Research and Medicine (Biotechnology certification and science fair), math bowl and HOSA - Future Health Professionals.

When I go to apply for college and for musical internships, I plan on listing the most relevant activities as well as the ones I've chosen to regardless stick with. Relevant activities in regard to my music major include honor ensembles and marching activities.

My most applicable activities for music include marching bands. I am a contracted baritone marcher of Atlanta CV Drum and Bugle Corps as well as trombone marcher and two year Trombone/Baritone Section Leader for the Pride of Paulding marching band. These show relevancy because these organizations provide rapport as well as the marching activity in itself shows another level of musical capability.

My honor ensembles are relevant likewise because they show higher musical skill and provide some legitimacy to your path. I have been involved in Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble, county honor band, jazz band and I was also a Two-Time State Applicant to the Governor's Honors Program.

I plan to also be with the Symphony of the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble, Youth Bands of Atlanta and JanFest at UGA. Auditions are coming up for each of these and I hope to be considered for membership. These would round out my music application by showing versatility (via orchestra along with wind ensembles) and more time dedication. Both universities and employers value this level of hard work.

Of course, even I on my soapbox have some activities I've stuck with despite it not being directly related to music. Despite this, you can make them relevant by touting your experience with it. I've been an officer and competitor for our chapter of HOSA - Future Health Professionals despite not going into healthcare and I've been certified in Biotechnology through my school The Academy of Science, Research and Medicine despite not going into STEM.

My experiences in biotechnology and healthcare have provided me a round academic experience, more high rigor classes and leadership opportunities. I was co-treasurer of our HOSA chapter and my Magnet school gave me access to more AP classes and the biotechnology classes. Anything can be useful, but the extent is determined by its relevancy.

The vast majority of my activities are both outside of the school and directly related to my career path. Activities such as these can make any student automatically more competitive than an equally academically-standing student.

Finding these activities involve a combination of involving teachers and mentors in your career field as well as self research. Luckily for me, I was able to fairly quickly compile a list of Honor Bands to audition for due to the abundance in the area. My directors also named a few. Most areas should have something at least tangentially-related to your specialization.

Some opportunities require knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time. For example, my involvement in one of my most valuable activity assets, Atlanta CV, was a result of knowing a guy that knew a guy that knew about an opening for the right instrument halfway through spring training.

What I hope readers gain from my story is to start early. I've found myself struggling to meet the market's standards in the last year of high school immediately before applying for college. Specializing would have been more effective a tad bit longer term and I hope others take my heed.

Moving on from high school can be an intimidating process. It's hard to find the right college, and even harder to convince them they want you. Harder still is convincing them to pay for your education. But all this can be made easier by specializing and becoming marketable.

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