Science, Business & Economics Valedictorian Speech

Spring Convocation 2009

Mr. Chancellor, Mr. President, distinguished guests, fellow graduates, ladies and gentlemen.

I Googled the Word 'Valedictorian'

When I was informed that I would be delivering the valedictory address this morning I was very excited. Then, when I first sat down and began to write out what I was going to say, I tried to think back to other valedictory speeches I had heard for inspiration, and to my horror, I remembered very little of them. Immediately, my goal became making what I was going to say so significant, eloquent, and momentous that everyone would talk about my speech for weeks to come. So, I did what any intelligent, responsible university student would do and I Googled the word Valedictorian. And although this is the usual scholarly approach to obtaining information, all I found was a definition of the word, pages of valedictory speeches for sale (none of which I could afford), and the all time top ten speeches given by dictators. My foolproof plan defeated, I realized I would have to do it on my own. I got to thinking, and I came to the conclusion that perhaps the best way to connect to everyone here today would be to try to summarize the collective experience of being a student here at the University of Winnipeg, and what it has meant to me in the past three years.

Friendly, Energetic Atmosphere

UWinnipeg is a wonderful place to experience university life. The friendly, energetic atmosphere here is something which I am very thankful and proud to have been a part of. I found it, however, quite difficult to describe campus life in such a way that every student could relate because the U of W is such a diverse place. Every graduate here has likely had a hugely different experience than that of the next: different courses, clubs, sports, friends, professors, opportunities, challenges, successes, failures, ups, downs, highs and lows. And just as we have had different experiences, what each of us takes away from our time here will be different. Some will learn (sometimes the hard way) how to budget time, to work hard, meet deadlines, and what is the most effective method of propping one’s eyelids open after 4 am, while others may learn life lessons about friendships, relationships, as well as personal challenges, goals, and dreams. I guess my point is that, just like many things in life, university is what you make of it- it can be challenging, stimulating, fun, enjoyable, and even grueling and hair-rippingly hard sometimes, and it will certainly always be memorable. The experience here at U of W truly exemplifies the hidden meaning of the word University itself, unity in diversity. We as students come from all walks of life, yet we have been united here through learning.

We Owe Our Presence Here Today to Many

Since I have been given the task of speaking on behalf of the graduating class, I would like to mention several things which I am sure are on the minds of most of my peers. We owe our presence here today to many people. To our parents. Thank you, first and foremost, for procreating. Thank you also for late night feedings, diaper changes, your unconditional love and support, sharing advice, forgiving us for our mistakes, making food, writing cheques, putting up with us when we go crazy, and everything in between. Thank you also to our professors. For teaching us so much, for answering all of our silly questions (especially in human reproductive biology), for telling us everything will be alright even though you know we’re totally done for, and for instilling in us a love to learn. Thank you to everyone and anyone who has helped us reach our goals, realize our dreams, and be here today.

Today is many things. Today is Graduation. Today is a great day which we will remember for many years to come. Today is the result of much hard work and it is a celebration of our success. It is here where we have sought to find a path in life, and we have been guided by our friends, families, and teachers every step of the way. We have been provided with countless opportunities, unwavering support, invaluable assistance, and as much knowledge as we could handle (and sometimes more) in order for us to develop and flourish as human beings. You, the students, are so full of life, character, integrity, and motivation to succeed. I can see it in the face of every graduate here. It has been a privilege to be schooled here and our education is a gift with which we will go forth and attempt to make positive change in the world.

Congratulations Class of 2009 and Good Luck!