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Arts Valedictorian Speech

Spring Convocation 2009


Mr. Chancellor, Mr. President, distinguished guests, fellow graduates, ladies and gentlemen, good morning and thank you for attending our convocation. I am honoured and a little bit overwhelmed to be speaking on behalf of the graduating class of 2009.


Past Century’s Most Famous Figures

When people think of great speeches, they often think of some of the past century’s most famous figures: Martin Luther King Junior, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill. But I’m obviously none of those men. This won’t be one of those speeches.

I hope, however, that my few words, in spite of all that they will lack, can share one simple thing with these great orations: a theme. Yes, I think good speeches (and at least one average speech) have good themes. The theme of my speech is gratitude.

We, the graduates of 2009, are a diverse group, but I think we share many things for which we can be thankful. We can all be grateful to have been fortunate enough to attend university at all. We can also be grateful to those who have helped us reach this point, and whom we will remember long after our grades and class schedules have been.


Grateful to the University Staff

We can be grateful to the university staff, be they the librarians who helped us scour the shelves to find a desperately-needed book, or the cashier in the cafeteria who may have lent us a dollar when we couldn’t afford our lunch.

We can be grateful to the university faculty, some of whom gave us their home numbers so we could bother them on weekends; others who wrote 5-page critiques of our 3-page assignments; and a few who saw in us things we never would have seen in ourselves.

We are also indebted to our fellow students. We are grateful to those who lent us their notes when we got the flu the week before our midterm, but we should also thank the classmates whose views challenged our own and made us reconsider what we believed in.

And we could not leave here without thanking our parents and mentors, friends and family outside of the university. Somehow, they put up with us when we panicked as the printer ran out of ink three hours before a major essay was due. Some of them even helped finance our educations.

It is in large part because of all of you that we are graduating.


Be Proud

Of course we, the graduates of 2009, have also played a part in this achievement. We would not be university graduates were it not for our days of research, late nights of writing, and a few scattered moments of frustration. Our degrees symbolize the skills we have developed and the knowledge we have acquired. We should be proud of ourselves.

Nevertheless, I think it is obvious that we did not reach this point alone. And, as the beneficiaries of so many other people’s efforts, we ought to be grateful and try to repay the favor. We can do this by giving of ourselves for the good of those around us in the years to come.

So, thank you, class of 2009 and congratulations.