Valedictorian 2012 Speech
To my former classmates, family members, faculty, and distinguished guests: Greetings from the glorious nation of Kazakhstan! I’m honored to be valedictorian and pleased to share some thoughts with you on this day. The better part of a year has passed since I completed my last course at Manchester Community College, but I recall with fondness the semesters spent studying there. The professors at Manchester are great teachers and dedicated to their students. They are easy to talk to and it’s motivating to know they care about students’ success. I’m grateful for the experiences I had in the classroom at Manchester and the professors, deans, and entire faculty deserve our sincere thanks on this occasion.
Since completing my final course, I’ve been traveling outside the country. It’s hard to summarize my experiences but I’ll try to share some observations. First, it’s very enriching to interact with other cultures: talking with people, eating new foods, and observing different communities. I’ve learned that it’s important to be patient, open-minded, and accepting. In return, I’ve been received with great hospitality and friendship. My gratitude goes out to those who’ve helped me on this journey, and I hope that foreign guests in America will find our country equally welcoming.
I must say also that travel is a bit like college. To succeed in either pursuit it’s not so much specific knowledge that is needed, but broad knowledge about how to use resources and people to find information and solutions. By overcoming each challenge, whether it’s studying for an exam, working on a team, or traveling in a foreign country, we learn how to do this, and become more experienced and therefore more educated. Learning is a life-long process that results from everything we do, whether we are conscious of it or not.
The ceremony today marks a milestone in this process for each of us graduates. To students who came from high school and are continuing to 4-year universities, it may simply mean a new environment and higher-level courses. For older students, like myself, who returned to college after long breaks, the Associates Degree has more meaning. We have overcome additional obstacles, perhaps taken some risk, and waited for a long time to be college graduates. We should be proud of our achievement! My most sincere congratulations go out to the classmates who worked the hardest to complete their degrees- students who juggled their classroom obligations with long hours at work, or persevered through learning or other disabilities. They inspired me when I lacked motivation, and they represent the greatest success of Manchester Community College, so congratulations to these students!
Before I conclude these remarks I feel obliged to offer a few pieces of advice to my fellow graduates. Like many graduation speakers, I think we should pursue our dreams and goals with creativity and passion. More practically, I tell you I think the most important skill we practiced here was public speaking. Nothing will guarantee your success more than the ability to communicate effectively. Finally, I encourage you all to be smart with your money! There have been too many bad examples in the news recently. It’s worth the effort to become financially literate. Class of 2012, may success and happiness find us all. Thank you and farewell.