Question: “You have just completed your 300 page autobiography. Please submit page 217″
My hands are clammy as I climbed up the stage. I was here at XXX University’s stage just twenty years ago, as a graduate accepting her diploma. I worked so hard in those four years in college. And I supported myself through student loans and TA work. I survived and got my degree. Resilience helped me through those times – it was hard to not have money in the bank, and needs and dreams that had to be fulfilled. I ploughed through; I had long decided that it was not me to be limited by the size of my wallet or whatever limitations life presented me. By my third year, I was even president of the debate team, and editor of the college newspaper. I knew my special talent was my ability to weave words into beautiful logical structures that affect people and make a difference in their lives. This was also the time I got the idea of establishing my own publishing company, for which I had to start from scratch, pockets empty as what I’d been used to.
As I climb the stage now to deliver this year’s commencement speech, I think of the words I wrote – the lines I wove. I had always been in love with the written word; yet, in my nervousness, I feel a tinge of doubt. Will what I say now make a difference in the graduates’ lives?
As I built my publishing company, I encountered some challenges. Funding was not consistent so I held off paying myself and even moonlighted as writer to get extra capital. I found fulfillment in writing because I learned so much. I became open to so many ideas, and I realized that it is in diversity that we are so rich – diversity in people, experiences and realities. The words I wrote part-time, to support a dream, brought together people who later on became my friends and allies. They came to me with their own unique strengths and talents. With their help, and with the hard work and resilience that had buoyed me through life’s trials, I was able to put together a stronger and happier publishing company.
I turn to my words now, those I wrote to inspire this year’s graduates; and I regain my confidence. It has been through these creations of mine that I learned so much and gained so much. I face a diverse crowd. I know that when they step out into the world as graduates they will trek a path towards their own dreams. And each one will add to this world. They just have to work hard, adjust positively to changes, and remain open. I deliver my speech without much pomp. My message is simple. And as I walk off the stage, I wish that what I said gave each one of my listeners the courage to get out their and fulfill their dreams.