2022 Convocation Distinguished Alum
Four years ago when I came to the University of Utah I felt like it was a new
chapter of my life, where I promised I would be different. I entered college with
a concrete plan, I knew what classes to take a semester ahead, what my major was going
to be, what I was going to eat for the next day, and what I planned to wear based
on the moody weather. I thought I was so sure of what I wanted next and who I wanted
to be, but I never would have become who I am today without the rejection I faced
on the way.
Rejection is one of the most powerful motivators that we often neglect, when it
happens we easily feel defeated with no more open doors. But as they say when one
door closes another door opens, and that’s exactly it. It isn’t until our rose-tinted
glasses get shattered that we can engage with the variety of choices approaching us,
no matter how long it takes. These new perspectives mold our future, they show us
how strong we are,our perseverance, and I hope you are impressed you made it here
Rejection has shined a light on new opportunities and the pandemic changed so
many of our plans. In spring 2020 I had tickets to Japan with the university’s debate
team, when it got canceled I was distraught to say the least. Japan shut down, the
U cut travel, and we went on lockdown. During lockdown, I like many others spent the
first few weeks in confusion, I wasn’t confident of what to do or how to move on so
I started picking up random hobbies like making stickers, knitting hats, or playing
animal crossing. (Thanks, Doug!) But amidst all of this, we also grew.
We are full of so many unique skills, we’ve prepared for this day and learned
the ropes to get here. Whether you’re part of business, art, gaming, or whatever your
major is, we as the humanities tie it all together.
The purpose of communication is evergrowing, but it is the root of all our solutions
alongside our issues. We have the unique privilege of bridging the gap between our
friends, peers, families, and
everyone here today. The humanities is now a necessary field for our critical dialogue
to safely continue.
Although we will be met with opposition and we won’t always agree on how to do
things, we are provided with the power skills necessary to compromise and find common
ground. The obstacles that forced us to change our plans weren’t with ill intent as
we’d like to believe but we continued to adapt and find new ways to exist.
Maya Angelou states “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive;
and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
I faced more rejection than I can count, and each one created a devastating blow,
however, it was the little wins that got me through the day. Making breakfast, getting
out of bed before noon, or finishing my homework on time.
I fulfilled my promise, I am a different person than I was when I started, and
we will continue to change and grow. This chapter of our lives isn’t coming to a close,
and we can reject the notion of happy ever afters. Shut the door on doubt or insecurities
today we walk away with a recognition of our expertise to combat the rejection of
We should find joy in the accomplishments that get us through every day because
that’s the big picture we are working towards. We are doing so much better than we
think we are, we have to give ourselves some credit, and regain the confidence I know
we all deserve, and for those that have it, flaunt it.
So feel secure in your growth and see that you have changed because today is proof
of that. While I have anxiety and fear of what’s going on, I have this feeling of
ambiguous loss, despite there being nothing tangible to grieve. Getting our degree
in our hands won’t give us the closure we are looking for, because there is no such
thing as closure, and this isn’t our end. We will continue to be scholars, students,
teachers, and friends but most importantly today, we are graduates.