Convocation 2017: Student Address
Vancouver, BC - May 2017 "Today is a day of hope. It is a day in which the past, present, and future collide; a day of nostalgia, transience, and faith.
It has been only three weeks since the end of term, and yet, already, I find myself renarrativizing the reality of my undergraduate experience. During the final exam period, when we are all consumed by presentations, projects, and papers, I was asked “how’s school?”, and in response, I smiled. I smiled, and regaled this person with the excitement and stimulation of college. I responded with everything that I love about education: the full notebooks, the highlighted textbooks, the “storage full” warning on my laptop. I responded with the pleasure of university. And instantly I found myself longing for this idyllic picture I had created.
However, the truth of this past isn’t so picturesque. The reality of the last five years has been… work. Hard work. Work that has made me question numerous times why I bother, why I stay, why I’m going to finish. Today, we are all united by this work… and by these questions. We are united by the all-nighters, the cancelled dinners, the futile attempts at procrastination, and the existential crisis’. We are united by this work, the yearning for knowledge, and today we unite at the commencement of this work.
The work of building community, this community, also unites us. We all came to this college for different reasons: to prove that we could succeed in higher learning, or that we are intelligent and able, or maybe to further our imaginations and scopes. But, regardless of why we came, we all stayed for the same reason; we stayed to be educated, here. Small classes, seminars, partnered presentations, group discussions- this environment encouraged and forged community connections; it fostered a partnership, a kinship between all of us here today.
Now, though ‘community’ frequently conjures images of private jokes and intricate levels of camaraderie, the reality of community, of unity, is risk. Every act of love, every act of partnership is a risk, for it is the exposure of vulnerability, the demonstration of need, and the acceptance of the possibility of failure (Vanier). Every act of community is therefore an act of hope.
Today we are celebrating an end. Yes, it is also a beginning; today is a step towards a new goal, dream, and daily reality. But it is also the end of who we have been for the last few years.
Working towards my Bachelor’s degree has defined my identity, my role for five years. If a person’s character is predicated on their choices (Aristotle), then mine has been unwaveringly focused on becoming a “College Graduate.” Education, at any level of study, is about assuming and playing with new roles- taking what we spend so much time learning, and allowing it to form who we are.
When I began at Corpus Christi, my role was intrinsically tied to my goal; I wanted to prove that I belonged in post-secondary. When I became part of a cohort working together towards our BA’s, this goal began to shift from proving something, to discovering everything… to awakening to the world. And so, as soon as I walked through those college doors every morning, I assumed the role of the “student, searching-for-more.” Today, I no longer have to assume that roll because it has ended.
Some of us here today may have been motivated by the quest for knowledge; others may have been propelled by circumstance, or economics. Regardless, walking out of those doors today, we have to ask ourselves, what are our roles now… who do we want to be next?
Today by being here, we are demonstrating our faith in an unknown future. We are agreeing to begin to let go of what has been, and look towards what can be. Our roles are shifting, and we are no longer who we have been… no longer are we “the Corpus Christi or the St. Marks student.” We are taking a risk. Just like that risk of forging community, this risk is determined by acknowledging our vulnerabilities and insecurities. Today, we are demonstrating a great act of faith- faith that through our experiences at this College, we have nurtured the tools and skills necessary to figure out our next roles, and in so doing, have nourished our minds, bodies, and souls. So, today is a day to thank all those in this community who demonstrated love for us by supporting our educational journeys, our dreams and our roles. Today is a day to acknowledge our past, to relish in our present and, to believe in our futures. Today, is a day of hope.
-Alexandra Glinsbockel, May 2017