To THEE, ALMA MATER,
bring we now our homage.
Joyously we, thy children,
sing thy praise.
Dear Alma Mater,
draw thy children to thee,
Graciously teach and lead us
in thy ways.
Strengthen our faith
and stir our hearts
Give us clear vision to honor truth always.
Guide our endeavors
to be worthy of thee.
May thy renown grow greater
day by day.
May loyal hearts ever sing thy praise.
Good afternoon staff, faculty, family and friends.
Let me first start off by saying to the class of 2020 and 2021 – I am SO proud of you! The day is here and I want you to relish in every single minute. As you heard time and time again today, this was a year like no other. COVID-19 tested us in ways unimaginable. And yet, you persevered. YOU did that!
When I was asked by President O’Reilly to consider giving a reflection speech at Commencement, my answer was swift and quick – “sure, of course, I’d love to!”. And then came the daunting task of figuring out what important reflection message I wanted to leave you all with today. Let me start off by saying this. I am a firm believer in things happening in the exact path or journey that it’s supposed to. In many ways, as each day went on and I gave thought and meaning to this speech in my head, it gave me the nuggets I needed to inevitably know what I woud be saying to you all today. And when I began reflecting on my years at Pine Manor College as a staff member, I couldn’t help but reflect on what got me to this point. And that was my unforgettable years as a Pine Manor College student.
You see, like some of you, Pine Manor College wasn’t necessarily my first choice in a post-secondary school. As a senior in high school trying to figure out my direction in life, all I wanted to do for college was fashion photography in New York City. That was it, and my mind was made up. But as a first-gen student of immigrants parents, navigating the college application process was daunting. And New York seemed daunting. So, I quickly began thinking of a plan B.
I remember the day I visited Pine Manor College like it was yesterday. A friend from high school who was in her first-year here at PMC suggested I come and visit. There was an immediate connection to the campus. My intuitions were literally speaking to me, telling me this was the place for me. When I reflect on my time post PMC there is nothing in me that knows that this is exactly where I was supposed to be all along. The same way that although this may have not been your first choice in a school or that you thought of transferring from time to time, this is exactly where you are supposed to be in this very moment.
As a student I lived close enough where I could see my family in Brockton almost every weekend. Every time I would get ready to come back to PMC, my grandmother would quietly call me over, quiet enough where my grandfather couldn’t hear her, and she would slide me five or ten dollars, whatever she had at the time. As she kissed me on my forehead she would say “Ba ku deus, pa fome ka nunca dabo”. Go with God, and may you never be hungry. I consider myself more spiritual than religious. But there was something about my grandmother saying “Ba ku deus” “Go with God” that was the most soothing thing to my soul. Her words covered me, protected me like a cloak of armor. I could sense all of my ancestors coming through when she spoke those words.
Graduates, I want you to now close your eyes, think about your next steps – the ideal career path or graduate school you want to go to, the future car or house you’ll own, the salary you want to make, paying off your student loans, helping to care for your loved ones – whatever it is that soothes your soul. Feel it, own it, because you are truly capable of all the things. Think it, but more importantly, after today say it out loud. Write it down, and watch it manifest. Because it is all yours. Now, open your eyes – and on that note – Ba ku deus!