Well it’s that time of the year…graduation time. Perhaps you just walked in the Izod Center a few days back. Perhaps you will be walking in a cap and gown in a year or two. Perhaps you walked a few years ago and are reflecting back on that day vis-à-vis your current career trajectory. No matter what, graduation provides us with one of those lockdown “moments in time” on your life journey. In other words, you will always be able to easily frame your past in terms of pre or post-college.
While sitting in the crowd this week, I had the pleasure of listening to Bradley Childs deliver the valedictorian address to the Seton Hall University Class of 2013. I was one of Bradley’s 38 plus professors (he was in two of my classes) during his time at Seton Hall and to have a perfect 4.0 for 8 semesters straight is a special accomplishment.
So I guess it should not have surprised me much when Bradley nailed his address to the students. First, the pace, tone, verbal inflections but most important, consistent eye contact (did he memorize it?) was impressive. Second, and even more impressive was the content. I have talked about storytelling a number of times here on DigNuggetville and Bradley employed multiple storytelling-like phrases such as “our book would be written on our own terms.”
Bradley was kind enough to share his speech with me so I could share with you today. Think of it as a Super Topic Talk! But more importantly, use this address to reflect back on where you were (or will be) on your life journey.
Bradley the floor is yours…
Valedictorian Address to the Seton Hall University Class of 2013 by Bradley Childs
1,359 days of wondering, wondering if we would make it to this day. Today marks the culmination of our 1,359 day journey – we are the graduating class of 2013. Fellow graduates, join me in welcoming our esteemed guests: Archbishop Myers, Dr. Arkes, Father Ker, members of the Board of Trustees, members of the Board of Regents, President Esteban, Senior Associate Provost Guetti, members of the Executive Cabinet, deans, faculty, families, and friends.
Graduation is one of those awkward times in our lives when we are torn between the joy of our memories and the excitement of our future. Should we look back on what were the greatest four years of our lives – times filled with joy from the boisterous sounds of that first spring day out on the green, the aroma of chicken finger day in the cafeteria, the resounding ring of the University bells, or the calmness of the chapel? Or instead should we focus on the next stage in this journey called life? We’ve been impatiently waiting for this day for four years – and now, we just want to hit pause. We want to slow it down, and enjoy the last fleeting moments. Our lives will be forever altered after we toss our caps into the air.
We entered the loving confines of our beloved Seton Hall University four years ago as an unwritten book eager to fill the pages. It seems like just yesterday we were lugging our countless bags into Boland. It seems like just yesterday we had orientation and had the pleasure of doing uncomfortable icebreakers together. We walked onto campus for the first time as students in the fall of 2009 with a gloomy world around us stricken by a global recession.
As the months passed we grew, and we learned to not allow external circumstances to define us. That’s right, my colleagues, our book would be written on our own terms. The friends we sit with today became additions to our family and are undoubtedly some of the main characters in our book of life. We grew up together in South Orange, and at times in Hoboken and New York City. Our campus provided us not only with a place to learn, but a true home. We were fortunate to experience what the phrase emblazoned on that acceptance letter we received truly means – we learned what a home for the mind, heart, and spirit meant in its full reality.
The diploma that we receive represents success and achievement. But we must remember more the journey that accompanied this achievement – both the heartache and happiness. The diploma itself is gently tucked away in the appendix of our book, while the journey to attain it fills pages.
We are now set to begin the next chapter in our book. Our book will veer off from the outline we created, for therein lies the beauty of our journey. Seton Hall has instilled in us a tremendous fire, a passion for life, and a desire to make the world in which we live better.
We owe it to each other, our family, our professors, our University, our country, and our God to pursue our wildest dreams. Our professors and classmates have pushed us to the brink for four years.
As graduates of Seton Hall University, we can do anything. In the words of the great Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” So, class of 2013, let us commit ourselves to the belief that we can accomplish anything. With this belief, our book is destined to be a bestseller.
We came onto campus 4 years ago with different backgrounds and different life experiences. We leave this campus 1,359 days later as a collective unit – we are the class of 2013. No matter the school we come from – whether Nursing or Theology, Business or Education, Diplomacy or Arts & Sciences – we are all members of this one University community. Let us put aside the joy of our memories and the excitement of our future for the time being. For as Mother Teresa said: “be happy in the moment, that’s enough.” At this moment, we are in absolute bliss. We are all Seton Hall University Pirates – and it does not get any better than that. God Bless. Elizabeth Ann Seton: Pray for Us.
Seton Hall University Class of 2013