Zachary Graham '10 - Commencement Remarks

May 16, 2010

Good morning family, friends, faculty, staff, alums, and my fellow classmates. I am honored to be speaking on behalf of the Class of 2010. This morning I want to share with you some reflections of our time here at St. Lawrence and the unique bond we all share with our soon to be alma mater.

We entered St. Lawrence tasked with the challenge of enriching, not only our lives, but also the lives of others around us. That's what makes St. Lawrence, this place we spent four amazing years at, so special. Many talk about the St. Lawrence community or family, but only those of us lucky enough to experience SLU know what this truly means, what it means to be a Laurentian.

We've come quite a long ways since we sat here three-and-a-half years ago. We've made deans list and ODK, studied in too many countries to name, published research and presented at conferences, and so much more. Our class is truly a unique and diverse group that has accomplished so much in such a short time.

I had the amazing opportunity to study in London last spring, as so many of us do. We all arrived in London on a January afternoon to find a place far different from St. Lawrence, or so we thought. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that London and Canton are identical. London has a total population of 7.6 million people, while Canton just pushes 6,000. As we began our semester long journey, we were introduced to the city that would be our home for the next five months. I distinctly remember one of our professors telling us that on any given day walking down the streets of London you can hear 35 languages being spoken, making London truly a city of the world. I began to think that St. Lawrence wasn't that much different from London in that respect. We represent 23 countries and 35 states. We come from California and Kenya, and Israel and Indiana.

We all have our hometowns, whether they are an hour away, or an ocean away. We have carried so many of aspects of where we come from to St. Lawrence, whether it's a language, tradition, or even pride for a hometown sports team. We have learned from professors. But, just as important we have learned from each other, and through that have helped each other lose our narrow-mindedness, and see the world from a different angle. We, the class of 2010, help make St. Lawrence a city of the world.

Before we leave this place we've called home I'd like to share a quote with you from Robert Kennedy's speech on South Africa's Day of Affirmation in 1966. A friend shared this with me a few weeks ago and I can hardly improve upon the words.

Some believe there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world's ills. Yet many of the world's great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man. A young monk began the Protestant reformation; a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth; a young woman reclaimed the territory of France; and it was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and the 32 year-old Thomas Jefferson who proclaimed that all men are created equal. These men moved the world, and so can we all. Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

We are all destined for great things. St. Lawrence has given us the wisdom and understanding to go forth into our future endeavors successfully. But, just as important we have grown and learned from each other. So as we reflect on our time here let us thank not only our professors and St. Lawrence, but also each other. And as Dr. Seuss once said:

Kid, you'll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
Or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O'Shea, you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

 

Thank You