On Wednesday, June 12, FLOC celebrated its high school graduates and their families at the annual Fred Taylor Scholarship Dinner. The following speech was written and delivered by Post-secondary Scholar Jazmin.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen,
First and foremost, I would like to congratulate the newest Fred Taylor Scholars. We are here to celebrate your achievements, recent high school graduation, and the infinite possibilities that lie ahead for each and every one of you.
As a recent college graduate, I can imagine the complex emotions of loss and excitement that you are experiencing as you sit here before us. People who see the cup as half empty would describe graduation as the end. But if we think of life as a book, milestones like graduation only mark the end of a chapter. As we turn the page and move on to the next stage in life, we should look forward to the adventures that lie ahead. Yes, college is certainly an adventure.
I hope that tonight I can transform the lessons that I have learned from the written sections of my book into strategies you can use to be successful in college and in life.
My first piece of advice is to take the time to find yourself. This is your book, and you are the sole author of your story. Believe in yourself, and allow yourself to enjoy the opportunities and experiences presented to you. By keeping an open mind, I discovered my passion for International Relations and adventured across the world from Santiago to Paris. Push yourself out of your comfort zone: for me, that meant studying abroad, but it could be something as simple as joining a new club or taking a class that you wouldn’t normally consider. Do things that are unfamiliar to you because you will learn the most about yourself when you are faced with challenging situations. Don’t settle for comfort, and always strive for more, you will surprise yourself.
My second piece of advice is to ask for help. Even though we are the sole authors of our life story, it’s hard to deny the role that friends, family, teachers, and mentors play in our development. As I struggled through my first year at college, learning to juggle academics, finances, and a social life, I realized that my strong support system could help me overcome any challenge I might encounter. I would like to thank FLOC in particular because no matter where life took me, FLOC would be there. FLOC has really grown with me in these past seven years. In high school, FLOC helped me get through the grueling college application process in one piece and then helped me make my way through college. You will soon come to appreciate those “end of the semester” care packages as much as I did. Second, I cannot deny the role my professors played in both my academic development and in my college experience as a whole. I highly suggest going to office hours, asking for help, and really building a personal connection with your professors early on. They will be your mentors and advocates these next four years. They will be the ones writing your recommendations letters and of course, they are the only ones who know the answers to the exams. Finally, appreciate your family and friends and keep them close. My mother always offered her unconditional support and she is definitely the most important supporting character in my book.
The last piece of advice I have for you is to make new friends and build networks. This may seem obvious, but I cannot stress the importance of the relationships you will build these next few years enough. You will learn as much from your peers as you will from your professors. College is not only a time of academic growth but also a time for experimental learning. While knowing the quadratic formula might help you pass that math exam, it will not necessarily help you find a job. But don’t tell your math professor I said that. By building networks you will be exposed to new ways of thinking and seeing the world, an invaluable skill no matter what you decide to do later in life.
It’s hard to think of my life as a book without imagining the many empty pages that lie ahead. For now, all of our stories remain incomplete, but I am excited to see what is to come because although college is over for me, learning and growing never stop.
I hope these pieces of advice will help you as you start writing the next chapter of you story, of course, there is nothing like experiencing it for yourself so I wish you all the best of luck in all of your endeavors and I urge you to enjoy every minute of your college experience. Thank you.
(Jazmin is a Post-secondary Scholar at FLOC).