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!