Olivia Hirschey 2015 Commencement Speech

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This weekend, across the country there are hundreds of commencement ceremonies happening, from kindergarten graduations to doctoral dissertations. Now, the kindergarteners are adorable, in their little caps and gowns, and the newly minted PhDs are certainly accomplished. So what makes our ceremony so special? Everyone here is going to graduate, so why did we go the extra step, put on these caps and gowns, and invite our friends and families to experience that Ellensburg wind we’ve all come to know and love? We’re here because we are Wildcats. We’re here because we’re supported by our Wildcat family. And we’re here because this campus will forever be part of our home.

Different paths led us here, and after today we will all be diverging down new paths, but we will always have gone to Central. This day is a junction of our lives, represented by the long gowns, funny caps, and special music. And at this junction we get to reflect on the past and be excited for the future.

But if I have learned anything in my four years here, it is that you have to take the present as it is: working hard at the task at hand, taking advantage of new opportunities, and above all, having pride in where you are right now.

And where we are right now is Commencement for Central Washington University’s Class of 2015: an accomplishment that we have certainly worked hard for with long hours in the Fishbowl, waiting for pizza deliveries and Summit book arrivals. With busy days on campus, from studying in the SURC to running to o-chem lab in Science and back again. With long nights and earlier mornings, caffeinated by the C store.

With this accomplishment we took advantage of new opportunities like presenting at SOURCE and at conferences. Like taking part in the Yakima River Clean up and the Holiday Bazaar,learning to give back to our Ellensburg community. Like seeing new exhibits in the museum and going to faculty poetry readings: some we understood, some were a little abstract, like much of the college experience.

And last but not least, this accomplishment is absolutely one we should all take pride in. Take pride in the academic lessons you have learned at college, not just how to write a summary response and a lab report, but how to think and analyze critically, how to push through nineteen drafts of the same paper, and how to use our resources and classmates around us. And if there’s one academic lesson we’ve learned, it’s to know that we should never stop learning, doing, or living.

Take pride in the life lessons you have learned. Some have been positive, like creating lifelong friendships with sunburnt river floats, potluck dinners, and late nights at Hot Diggity Dog. Like going from the Bassetti’s to figuring out how to live like an adult- or at least pretend to. Like learning to ask for help when we need it and seeing professors stay late and arrive early just to make a difference in our lives. Some of these lessons were harder to learn, but all have shaped who we are today.

Above all, take pride in yourself. Today, take the time to give thanks to those who helped you along the way. Thank you cards are always a good idea. Tomorrow, start working to pay it forward. Everyone deserves an education, and as college graduates, we now have both the right and responsibility to educate our world. The Wildcat pride we feel today can and should be a catalyst for future students and for your Wildcat family, one that I am immeasurably proud to be a part of.