Delivered by Scott, Daniel
“Valedictory Address: Class of 2000 Ceremony B” (18 May 2000): 1-5. (UA Case 68, Box 2).
Your Honour, Mister Chancellor, Madame President, honoured guests and honorary degree recipients, family, friends, and Class of 2000.
Graduation is a time when we look forward to the future and reflect on the past. It is a dusk of one important phase of our lives and the dawn of another. It is a pivotal moment. It marks the accomplishment of a major goal for each of us. We have all just added a couple of letter to the ends of our names.
In order to get here, we have all jumped through the required hoops, scaled the appropriate walls, and overcome any hurdles that stood in our way. Looking back, I’m sure that each and every one of us can remember some adversity that was overcome in order to get here today.
Perhaps it was a roommate in a dorm-room who snored too loudly to allow anyone to get any sleep. Perhaps it was that professor who just didn’t like a particular style of writing. Maybe it was that student loan officer who obviously had no idea how much a year of university costs. Many have overcome personal tragedies. Others have juggles full-time jobs, spouses and children all the while working toward a university degree. We all deserve to be proud of ourselves.
I remember back to the first week of October of my first year here at UNB. I got the lowest mark in my class on my Contract Law mid-term. I nearly dropped out. I didn’t think I could handle it.
I went to talk to one of my professors. He asked me what I did for work in the summers. I told him that for four summers I had moved furniture in my hometown of Truro, N. S. He said, “So let me get this straight, you are going to give up on law school so that you can go home and move furniture?!?” I said, “I’ll see you Monday!”
A few weeks later, we had another Contracts midterm. I got the forth highest mark in the class. All it took was a little proverbial elbow grease, some dedication, and an intense dislike of moving furniture!
A great story of perseverance comes from a song entitled The Mary Ellen Carter by the late great Canadian singer/songwriter Stan Rogers. It’s about a ship, the Mary Ellen Carter, that was lost at sea.
Her crew felt that they owed her a debt of gratitude because she has “saved their lives so many time living through the gales.” The crew wanted to salvage her. The owners, however, wrote her off as they had already collected the insurance money.
So, the crew began a salvage operation using borrowed equipment and doing all the work themselves. They worked on her for a couple of long months suffering the bends and braving the cold Atlantic waters. Finally, they had her repaired to the point where she would stay afloat if they raised her. And they did. Their story of perseverance is expressed in the following portion of the song, which I will paraphrase. Mercifully, I will not try to sing it.
And you to whom adversity has dealt the final blow,Reflecting on the last three, four, or more years of our lives, we will see many examples of occasions when we have adhered to the advice of that song.
With smiling [scoundrels] lying to you everywhere you go,
Turn to you and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain
And, like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again!
And you, the family and friends of the Class of 2000, also deserve some credit. You have been there to pick us up when we’re down and you have been there to share in our triumphs when we do well. But most importantly, you have been there to share in our triumphs when we do well. But most importantly, you have been there to deposit money in our accounts when we’ve been broke.
You constantly support us as the crew of the Mary Ellen Carter supported one another. For that, we sincerely thank you.
It is important that as we embark on the rest of our lives that we continue to meet challenges head on. In order to attain all of our goals and aspirations, we will undoubtedly encounter a great deal more frustration, misfortune, and setback. It is up to us, and those around us, to push forward and deal with these mishaps when they invariable occur.
As you look around, you may recognize some of your fellow graduates. Maybe you see somebody who you were frosh with, or somebody who caught your eye dancing at the Chestnut. Maybe you recognize somebody from one of your classes or that person who seemed to know all the words to all the songs at Dolan’s. You may be staring at your closest friend or someone you remember from karaoke at Rye’s.
But, whether you realize it or not, you are seeing more. You are looking at a member of the Class of 2000. The class that embarks at the dawn of a new millennium. The class that is destined for greatness.
Let’s gaze into the future, and think about these same people. The people in our class are going to be remembered for far greater things than karaoke competence. Perhaps one of our classmates will find a cure for cancer. Another may become a best-selling author. Or, maybe one of us will become Prime Minister. Whatever achievement you can imagine, no matter how lofty, one of the people here today might do it.
My point is that there is no limit to what we can accomplish. With our degrees behind us we can go forward. We can set our sights for more lofty goals, attain them, and then go on to even greater feats.
We can achieve these goals anywhere in the world. A degree from the University of New Brunswick in no way limits us to UNB’s namesake province or even to the Atlantic region. If we so choose, we can remain here. But, doors are open to us everywhere. Our task is to search around and find those opportunities.
A word of caution because we all run off to continue on our goal-oriented paths. We have all heard the old cliché about “all work and no play.” Well, there is a certain degree of truth to it. A wise man, my uncle, once told me, “You don’t live to work; you work to live.”
His point is obvious. We are all going to enter the workforce. Some sooner than others. When we get there we must remember that we work so we can support the lifestyle that we wish to have. We may have to work long hours, for example, to afford some of the finer things in life. However, remember that the longer the hours we put in the less time we have to enjoy those very finer things. There is a definite trade-off there. It is important when setting our goals that we keep that consideration in mind.
On a personal note, I want to extend a sincere thank you to the University of New Brunswick for admitting me when they did and for assigning me a room in the MacLeod House in my first year. The reason is that, on my first day at UNB, at the front door of MacLeod House, I met someone who has since become very important to me. Ten days ago, we celebrated our first anniversary together. Today, we receive our law degrees together. I love you, Lynnette!
The final sentiment that I wish to express deals with pride. Every one of us should be proud of our accomplishments. That includes our achievements prior to coming to UNB, as well as the accomplishments that have culminated in our receiving our degrees here today. It also includes the accomplishments that all of us will complete in the future.
However, we must always avoid resting on our laurels. We can never allow ourselves to be content with past triumphs. We have all received a fine education. It has given us the opportunity for success. Let’s seize that opportunity and build on it. Let’s be proud of ourselves and make the UNB community proud of us too.
Thank you all and Congratulations Class of 2000!
Addresses may be reproduced for research purposes only. Publication in whole or in part requires written permission from the author.