A major role of commencement speakers at the culminating event of a lengthy and often arduous course of study is to inspire graduates to move positively and purposefully forward to the next phase of their lives.
I’ve often enjoyed reading commencement speeches by famous people, but not this year. After participating in a bittersweet online high school graduation in which the only commencement speakers were the students, themselves, I felt that this was exactly the way the event should be for the graduating class of 2020.
I was so inspired by what I heard from these graduates in the Zoom ceremony that I looked for other graduating students’ speeches. I share just a few quotes with you from students looking forward to enter college – in some form or fashion – this fall:
Have a voice; wasting it is not an option.
Be unafraid to challenge norms.
This wasn’t our time. Our time is coming, and it’s coming soon.
We’re the doers and the go-getters.
We will be stewards of our environment.
It’s not the crisis, it’s our response.
Don’t tell yourself, “no.”
Be aware of what values you hold and what values you show to the world.
This is the end, and this end is our now.
From these few selected quotes, I believe that students today are canceling out neither the reality that they’re now living in or the unknown world that lies before them. I sense that right now, they don’t need our commencement speeches because they have their own way of coping with whatever comes. The best that we can give them is to let them just be.
I’m hopeful and inspired about our future and theirs because today’s students intuit that the only thing that they can even aspire to control is their view of the world and their place in it. Is there anything more that we could tell them?