“Doesn’t it seem like it was just yesterday that we stood in caps and gowns in a high school gym or auditorium? We found ourselves surrounded by family and friends, classmates and teachers, people that had been present in our lives in the journey that led up to that day.
“Now, here we are- dressed up in similar apparel, with many of the people that were with us then, and also many new people that we have met since that time. Take a look around you–whether or not you’re wearing a cap and gown, you have many reasons to celebrate this day, and you should feel proud and accomplished. Today, we are all looking out at the view from a mountain peak that we have been climbing up to for quite some time.
“My high school’s class motto was: “Go and go far–but not so that you cannot look back and see how you got there.” Reaching the top of the mountain is so much more enjoyable when you can acknowledge and appreciate the path from which you came, the memories that were created from it. Many of us came to college with dreams of our own, while others found our dream during our time here; but we can all say that, today, we are much closer if not already there in making our dreams a reality. As I continue, I encourage you to all to reflect upon your unique journeys:
“We took our first steps up the mountain when we traveled onto this campus to open up a brand new chapter of our lives. Once here, we found the courage to make conversation with our dorm neighbors and our classmates, and we met people who influenced us in various ways. Some of these people will be with us for the rest of our lives.
“We received wisdom and guidance from various professors, faculty, and other leaders on education and life in general, and more specialized assistance pertaining to the degrees each of us are receiving today. As a music major, I can humbly think of several professors in the department whom I look up to each and every day, and will continue to do so in the years to come.
“All along the way, we sought great opportunities and faced significant challenges. We joined teams and got involved in organizations, we gave our efforts to causes we believe in. We took classes that opened doors to new passions, and we all had that one class where we simply grateful just to get by. We explored the culture of the city with friends old and new, and we found ways to contribute to the community using our talents. In all of these endeavors, there were days where we struggled, and we thought, “this is it- I just can’t do it” and while we wondered if we actually believed it, we still pressed onward. Mistakes have been made, lessons have been learned. It’s so important for us to remember all of these things, because who we are, and where we are is a result of the journey that led us here.
“This moment, this peak of the mountain, is so important because it represents both an ending and a new beginning. In order to move forward, we need to recognize what we are leaving behind, and show our gratitude for it. The people in our lives, particularly family and friends, will likely continue to be there for us as they already have, and for that they also deserve the utmost appreciation. The memories we’ve made and the places we’ve been should be appreciated for the role they served in our past. I hope every one of you will look back on the way you came, take some time to enjoy the view from the top, and then set your sights on the next peak and begin a new climb.”
To conclude, Reynolds played and sang her original song The Climb.