The word came in a couple of days ago. I have a one in 10 shot to be the commencement speaker (representing online and continuing education) at the 2015 Southern New Hampshire University graduation.
Administration, according to their email, had more than 200 preliminary submissions and whittled that down to 10. On February 20, they sent out an email to all the finalists and instructed to put together a speech of no more than 450 words, and film yourself giving it. So that’s what I did.
I have to say I enjoyed working on it. Speech-writing is always something I’ve been interested in and I think I conveyed my story, a common SNHU experience, and a look to the future. It’s light but also heartfelt and hopeful. While I would have loved four times the amount of word space, I think I told the story fairly well.
Take a look:
Here’s the text of the speech:
Stories enamor me. A good story can mean one thing to a million people and a million things to one person. There are a lot of stories here. Stories of hope. Stories of drive. Stories of perseverance. Stories of success. Today is the day our stories intersect.
My odyssey began ten years ago. A teenager on Cape Cod, I got into the school of my choice. The University of New Mexico. I became a Lobo. I loved my experience at that school. Unfortunately I didn’t spend enough time experiencing the classrooms – my plans changed. I walked over to Central New Mexico Community College and enrolled. My goal to get my degree would not falter. I had hope. I became a Suncat.
At the end of my first semester at CNM I walked by a presentation on the Walt Disney World College Program. I stepped in, sat down, and somehow I applied. Six months later I was in Florida. My time in the Magic Kingdom, which sounds like the autobiography of Mickey Mouse, showed me the dedication and resolve to achieve my goals. To get to a place like this one. When I got back to CNM, I was inspired. I took a job running the school paper, was able to travel to places like L.A. and Louisville, and received my associate’s degree. I had drive. But I wasn’t done. Unable to go back to UNM, I needed to get my bachelors. And that’s when I found… Bridgewater State University. I became a bear.
My parents, graciously, moved me back to Cape Cod in 2012. I picked Bridgewater because, at an hour and a half away, it was the closest to home. It was fun for a little but soon became taxing. At the end of my first semester I spun out trying to get to a final. After that, Bridgewater wasn’t fun anymore. But I persevered and made one last change.
In January 2014 I became a Penman. A Penman with Lobo, Suncat, and Bear blood. When I wrote my first Icebreaker I thought I’d stand out. I thought I was different. Because everywhere else I had been. But then I read similar stories. I found people who related to mine. Eventually I learned a couple of things. All Penman hope for a better future – whether it’s for their family or for a passion they believe in. Penman have the drive to make change happen. We persevere when we face setbacks. And most of all, in the end, Penman achieve success.
Congratulations to all of you. Today is the end of a chapter and tomorrow you get to write something new. I look forward to reading it.
I’ll be sure to let everyone knows what happens. Hopefully they #VoteNick.
… I promise I will never use that hashtag ever again. I just had to do it once. Just once.