Graduation Reflection

I look back to our graduation speakers, who more eloquently voice my thoughts, and whose words, although spoken in May, could not be more relevant today:

Drew Faust, President of Harvard University:

“What is going on? What is happening to the world?…We sing in our alma mater about calm rising through change and through storm. What does that mean for today’s crises?…What should we do? What must we do?”

Steven Spielberg, Academy-award winning director and screenwriter:

“This world is full of monsters, and there’s racism, homophobia, ethnic hatred, class hatred, there’s political hatred, and there’s religious hatred. We must never forget that the inconceivable doesn’t happen, it happens frequently — atrocities are happening right now.”

The tragedy in Orlando struck close to home, literally — although my family and I live an hour away in Lakeland, we happened to be in Orlando 15 minutes from Pulse on Saturday night. Scared at my own blissful ignorance, I didn’t even know it had happened until the following afternoon, when my friend Ved alerted me.

As a recent college graduate (and as someone who still hasn’t figured out her purpose in life), it is jarring to leave the sheltered comforts of home and dorms and enter a world where terrorism is rampant. What is the role I am supposed to fulfill for society? How can I, a single person, make a difference? Yet it’s humbling to remember that our destinies — these journeys we’re all on — are part of something much larger.

Rakesh Khurana, Dean of Harvard College, quoting his college neighbor Professor Carl Sagan:

That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you’ve ever heard of, every human being who ever was lived out their lives…there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.”

And that perhaps this reminder of our own insignificance may bring us closer together.

Sagan (via Khurana):

“What we share here on Earth is so much greater than what divides us.”

Faust:

“In a world divided by difference”…we must “strive to be united by it.”

While I was at home, I was also reminded, saliently, that there is no way I would be here alone. I cleaned out my room before I left for New York and then London for the next two years and I found my yearbooks from elementary, middle, and high school. Flipping through the pages, I began to realize the sheer volume of people who have touched my life. The 4th grade math teacher who encouraged me to join E-team. The cafeteria ladies and men who made sure we were well-fed every day. The principal who took us out to lunch after getting straight A’s. The Latin professor who volunteered his time to teach us snippets of Spanish and Latin during Sunday School. Yes, Dean Khurana, it takes a village to raise a child, and I have been incredibly fortunate to have received so much love and support from those around me. Most of all, I am grateful to my parents, for making this dream possible. Thank you all. I hope I can pay it forward some day.

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