The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Freida Brown,
The Chief Guest, Professor George Magoha
Board of Trustees
The Chancellor, Dr. Manu Chandaria
The University Council
The University Senate
Management Board
Faculty, students, staff and alumni present
Parents and guardians,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
And the Graduating Class of 2022

Good Morning.
I am extremely honored to stand before you and give this address on behalf of my graduating class. I remember receiving this email and thinking to myself, “Am I now an adult?” It seemed like such an adult thing to do – giving a valedictory speech. So here goes my attempt at being an adult.

What a great feat it is to be graduating today, and finally getting to step on the grass for free! We made it here with plenty of odds stacked against us. We soldiered on through a global pandemic and transitioned into e-learning like we had been practicing for it all our lives. We maneuvered seamlessly through hybrid learning and some of us even made it back into our traditional brick and mortar classes. We are persistence, we are resilience, we are the future.

Dolly Parton once said, "We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails". This unique voyage of ours, undertaking our studies through a pandemic, has kept us on deck and on task, adjusting the sail every so often, to make sure the wind takes us where we need to go. Through this we have proven that adaptation is part of our make up. We're all about to set out into the great big world and do very adult things. Adulting requires of us constant adaptation; to new environments, new people, new experiences, even new food. At this point if we know nothing else, we know that we can do it.

We would not be here without the faculty that have helped mold us into the bright stars we are today. As hectic as all the assignments, term papers and group work presentations were, every one of them contributed to this very moment and if for nothing else, we should be grateful for that. It goes without saying that week 7 & week 14 will not be missed. Those traumatic numbers reminiscent of the fact that the pressure is getting… (pause for the audience to respond, “WORSER!”). We can finally go back to reading calendars by months and not by weeks reflective of what is due.

My personal experience with university has been, to put it mildly, challenging. I have had a few starts and stops, but the fact that I am standing here today is proof positive that with determination and the right support system, anything is possible. I would like to thank the Financial Aid Office and the Educate Your Own program, who were instrumental in keeping me afloat when I needed their help the most. I would like to offer my deepest and most sincere thanks to my mother, Anastacia Achieng' Ong'any, without whom quite literally I would not be here today.

It is bitter sweet leaving somewhere we have called home for so long. So many aspects of school and campus life will be missed but I can find a few none of us are sad to leave behind:

  • Assignment due at 11.59PM
  • Pop quiz
  • Group work (with non-responsive group members)
  • Saturday classes
  • Safe assign (with a 47% plagiarism report)
  • Zoom University (“Mute your mic. Turn on your video.”) No, thank you, prof; I am still in my bonnet.

As much as it is more common for us to look outside for heroes on graduation day, I see so many before me today. I see leaders, I see helpers, I see trailblazers in caps and gowns. We have shown not just the world but also ourselves that we are survivors. We have not only survived this pandemic that has fundamentally changed how we interact with the world, but we have grown from it. We have used it as an opportunity to strengthen our relationships. Hopefully, we've also convinced anyone looking to hire us that we can indeed work from home. Finally, the words of the ever fabulous Lupita Nyong'o "I personally know that I am capable of anything I put my mind to. Whether someone agrees with that or not is not a concern of mine". So believe in yourself. We've made it this far, nothing can stop us now.

It would be a crime for me to be a Spanish minor who does not address you in Spanish so to prove that my professors, Maria del Rocio and Pablo Rubio did not waste their time, ¡Gracias a todos por su tiempo y enhorabuena a la Clase de 2022! Lo hicimos.

(TRANSLATION: Thank you all for your time, and Congratulations to the Class of 2022! We did it.)

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