• "Discussing the 'moments that encapsulate Our Southwestern Experience' with a few thousand of my closest friends" - Angelica Grayson '18
    Angelica Grayson

New Southwestern alumnae Angelica Grayson ’18 addressed her peers at Saturday’s commencement ceremony. She spoke on the Southwestern experience, the value of her liberal arts education and not letting moments pass you by.

Read her full speech below. 

Before I begin, I have a secret to admit to you all… I walked across the Southwestern seal. Yep, I stopped and stood on it, actually, pondering my past, present, and what was left of my future here at SU, tempting and taunting the mysterious “gods of the seal” to take away what has been 4 years in the making. I don’t recommend this, as it is incredibly high risk, but, sometimes, these moments are worth it.

It’s difficult to capture my Southwestern experience in a mere matter of words on paper. That’s because the essence of my Southwestern experience has taken place not only in the classroom, but outside of it – on the mall between classes, trying desperately to avoid the risk of walking across the seal. (Well, some of us don’t try too hard.) In the late night study sessions at the cove that inevitably turned into snacking sessions. When you can’t wait to get to the commons on Friday, just so you can elbow-five Miss Ella. On the soccer field, where the camaraderie built inseparable bonds and the opportunity to compete was never taken for granted. It’s the moments in between, the gaps in our schedules, the moments with people who become lifelong friends, the moments where we are all our own unique selves, and, yet, at the same time, we are a part of something so much bigger than us. Here at Southwestern, I, along with my peers, have cultivated an interest in a multitude of disciplines and fields. We are well-versed in communication, psychology, finance, chemistry, theatre, statistics, anthropology… the list goes on. We have acquired all the skills and tools necessary to accomplish big, brilliant things.

The liberal arts education we venture into here at Southwestern is paramount and incomparable. However, the influence of our education goes above and beyond our academic endeavors; it extends into our intellectual encounters. We learn the significance of considering various, diverse perspectives, which teaches us how to empathize. We understand what it means to meet people where they’re at, to find common ground amidst distinct cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs. It’s not My Southwestern – it’s OUR Southwestern.

When we look back on our Southwestern experience, we don’t see it in a chronological list of things that happened, one at a time, but as clips from a movie entitled “My Southwestern Experience”, that burst into our minds, and as soon as we take a second to reminisce, the memory fades, and a new one takes its place. But for an instant, we see them – the moments. The things we did, the things we learned, the people we met, and the people we became along the way.

We take these memories with us as we go, on to the next moments. The excitement of grad school, the wonder of traveling, or the thrill of a new job (that our parents are very excited about). And even though we may not be able to ride a Pirate bike to work every day, whether we’re “adulting” or advancing in academia or adventuring, we will be fully equipped to take on whatever it is we are called to do. And MAYBE you have no idea what that is, and that’s okay, too. That’s a good problem to have. We may not realize it, but you are critical thinkers, we are problem-solvers, and we are go-getters. We will find our paths and we will prosper and we will be okay.

So, before we continue on with the ceremony, to the part I know we’re all waiting for, hear this – Don’t let the moments pass you by. Take a second to stop and be still, to live them, to cherish them, to store them for safekeeping. You won’t regret it.

Thank you Southwestern, for the moments that encapsulate our Southwestern experience and exemplify who we are. Thank you for the infinite number of life lessons, and thank you for being a part of the ridiculously marvelous, extravagant, wild and wonderful dreams that will come true in the moments ahead of us.

And to Miss Ella, it may not be Friday… but it’s Graduation Day.