2011 Fredericton Encaenia - Ceremony C

Valedictory Address

Delivered by: Moulton, Kathy Priscilla

"Valedictory Address" (19 May 2011): 1-3. (UA Case 68, Box 2).

Your Honour, Mr. Chancellor, Members of the Board of Governors, Mr. President, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, and graduates. We have come to the end of the graduation process today. Our time at UNB for this particular degree has come to a close and soon we will all be off on different adventures, following our own particular path in life. It is an exciting time; a time filled with potential and uncertainty. Before we leave, I am very honoured to provide some closing remarks.

I would like to share three things that I have learned while at UNB with you. As I reflected upon my experiences here while preparing this speech, these three lessons stuck out as the most valuable and relevant ones to speak about here today.

I must start by saying that I have learned of the importance of noticing others. Being in such a small community at UNB, I have learned that one of the most significant contributions that you can make sometimes is to care deeply about those around you and to act when you notice that someone needs a helping hand. It is difficult to do this during a program in which you must be competitive with your peers but perhaps it is most important to do this with your biggest competitors. Needing help is not a sign of weakness but a situation that everyone eventually finds him or herself in. Offering to help is not imposing, but instead is a display of kindness towards others that we shouldn't be afraid to make. In our ever increasingly electronic society of emails, texting and instant messaging, I urge you to make an effort to stay in touch with those around you in a more human way as you leave the sheltered world of university and venture out into a range of larger communities, industries and workplaces.

Connected to this is the second lesson I have learned: that is, that the success of one is never as valuable as the success of the whole. While I encourage you work hard, aim high and follow your dreams, I would also like to ask that you give back, volunteer often and consider the impact of your actions on others. The desire to succeed in your own personal life is an important emotion to foster in yourself but my own experience at UNB has taught me that we are all more successful when we help others to reach their dreams at the same time that we are reaching ours. So remember the spirit of study groups, sharing notes and explaining difficult concepts to someone else when you find yourself sitting in your office, your creative space or other form of work environment you end up in. As I have progressed along with my classmates, I know I owe my presence here today to them as much as to myself. My goal is to now share my knowledge, experience and abilities with others; I implore you to do the same.

The third lesson that I have learned during my time at UNB is that no matter how far you go in your life and your career, you should never forget who you are and how far you've come. We have all accomplished something great by graduating; most likely, we are different individuals than we were years before when we first arrived at UNB. This growth is essential but it always serves me well to think back to that first event in Fredericton. The one that took twice as long to get down Kings College as I dragged my feet the entire way, afraid I would not belong here and that I couldn't tackle the work ahead of me. I think back to my first year, filled with new friends, new professors and a steep learning curve. I think of how far I've come since the beginning and I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I didn't always know whether I would make it or not. But, armed with the knowledge that I have accomplished this degree supplies me with the confidence that I need to conquer my next challenge in life. I hope the same is true for you.

I am not a stranger to the experience of graduating from the safe, protected world of university into the larger, unpredictable world of work. As a previous Arts graduate, I have felt the excitement of being finished, the fear of not knowing exactly what comes next and the anxiety of being asked " so, what will you do now?" With this experience in mind, I would like to reassure you a bit and ask that you not be too afraid of the uncertain future. Embrace the unknown, be open to new opportunities that come your way and seek out the challenges that you want to tackle. Give yourself room to grow and you'll never have a reason to fear what comes next.

And so, to close, keeping true to my three lessons, I would like to you to notice those around you here today and think back to those who have helped you arrive at this moment and join me in sharing with your friends, family, professors and classmates some gratitude for helping us all succeed at UNB. On behalf of the class of 2011,1 would like to say thank you to our mothers, fathers, extended family, partners and friends for all the support and guidance you've sent our way over the past few years. To all our professors, administrative staff, librarians and, for me in particular, the kind ladies at the campus coffee shop who supplied me with caffeine on a daily basis, thank you for creating the positive learning environment which we now must leave. Your dedication to taking fresh first years and turning them into fresh graduates has made all the difference.

Class of 2011, it has been a pleasure to speak before you today. I hope the lessons that I've learned and shared with you today coincide or complement your experience. Good luck on your next journey and congratulations.

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