Saturday, 18 January 2014
Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, and - of course - fellow graduates
I have been asked to speak on behalf of the graduating students today - an invitation I was both honoured and terrified to accept. It is no small task to sum up four, five, and for some graduates, even six or more years of study - especially when there are so many of us from such varied disciplines, each with their own unique experiences and memories. But I'll do my best.
The first and possibly most important thing I'd like to say is not to my fellow graduates, but to our families and friends. On behalf of all of us, thank you. You have supported us when we needed it, avoided us when your survival depended on it, cheered us on, proof read for us, listened to any number of assignments, presentations, and frustrated rantings, and most of all, you have believed in us when we weren't feeling so confident in ourselves. For myself, I don't think I could have survived the past five years without my mother and father, or even my sister and brother, even though the fear and apprehension on my siblings' faces when they visited the house during exam time or when I was trying to meet an assignment deadline is something I will fondly remember for years to come.
We are also grateful to all of the staff at ECU who have played a part in preparing us for our careers - our lecturers in particular. If you were one of the law lecturers, it's possible that you suffered through our first year assignments and managed to maintain your composure when, upon advising us that the average mark was 30 per cent, a class full of arrogant students laughed, assuming it was a joke - because we must be smarter than that. It wasn't a joke. Perhaps you survived a social event at which an inebriated student overshared just a little bit, or perhaps you listened patiently while irritable students played the blame game over whose fault it was that their group assignment wasn't up to scratch. For these reasons, and more than that, for the skills and knowledge you have shared with us, we thank you.
Finally, to the graduating students. When I was preparing my speech, excitedly using Google and YouTube as legitimate search engines for the first time in half a decade - it became apparent that graduation speeches are practically required to include some sort of inspirational quote. I chose Michelangelo, who said "If you knew how much work went into it, you wouldn't call it genius". Many of you will have had some experience with people telling you how hugely intelligent you must be, because of the course of study you have undertaken. But hopefully by now, most of us have realised that it doesn't take the smartest person in the room to be the most successful, but usually, the hardest working. We have all worked hard to get here today. Some days were harder than others, some units more challenging. We have experienced disappointments and rough times, and some of us have lost a friend. But throughout it all, the support networks we have developed through our time at university, whether academic or personal, have strengthened us, and our presence at graduation is evidence of the ability of each student to persevere. As we move forward with our lives, we will continue to experience challenging times. But we go ahead in the knowledge that we are prepared to deal with them, and we take with us some incredible memories, achievements, and friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime. So today, as we retire from the great car park war of ECU, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each of the students I have been privileged to know during my studies. You have made the past five years incredible, and I graduate today with the absolute certainty that choosing to study at ECU was among the best decisions of my life.
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