The Beauty of Today: Commencement Remarks by Tiffany Kallam ’12
There has been no greater honor in my academic career than to stand amongst my peers, my mentors, my friends as a speaker for our class.
A class saturated with inspiring, dedicated and truly beautiful people.
Standing here, looking out upon excited, tired and proud eyes at the pinnacle of our academic accomplishments at Guilford, I am reminded of a quote by Elisabeth Kubler Ross a very dear friend sent me. It reads:
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who
Have known defeat
And have found their way out of the depths
These persons have an appreciation, sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with a strong compassion, gentleness and a deep-loving concern.
Beautiful people do not just happen”
You see, to your right and left are graduates of an extraordinary caliber: Single mothers, single fathers, working adult students, holding one, two and sometimes three jobs.
Three a.m. wake up calls to study because there is no other time before mommy duty, daddy duty, job duty or school duties.
You see, to your right and left are graduates that have known the defeat to time; precious and irreplaceable time away from our children, determined to better ourselves for our children.
To your right and left are graduates that have known struggle. Writing papers by candlelight because the power has been cut off, digging in the bottom of kitchen drawers for change to make it to class…to make change.
You see, to your right and left are graduates who have known loss; the loss of jobs, the loss of friendships, the loss of lovers, the loss of homes, the loss of loved ones. And although broken-hearted in mind and spirit have persevered and sit here in front of you today.
Today is more than a celebration of our academic achievement at Guilford, more than revelry in our completion of the past four years and tomorrow’s sweet ambiguity.
Today is a victory to liberate our potential.
To silence the noise in our heads of over-represented inadequacies.
Today we listen to our inner voice that is so often silenced in the presence of others’ opinions.
And may we always be guided by it to take the right actions;
Actions that eradicate cynicism, strife, apathy, prejudice and injustice, through empowerment of one another and strengthened communities.
Today we become courageous in our fears of failure and allow ourselves to see and believe how magnificently brilliant and innovative we can be.
Today we will continue to construct meanings from our experiences; leaving Guilford leaders that do not bask in boastful definition, but simply in the expression of who we are.
Today we face a sometimes cruel, unfair and unrelenting world.
And yes, we have done great things, but it is important we don’t shy away from the responsibilities and urgency of things to be done.
So, my fellow Guilfordians, it’s time to unleash our hearts, our minds and our beauty on the rest of the world—it needs us.
Today we do not just happen.
We are happening…
And we got this!
As prepared for delivery at Commencement on May 5, 2012