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Faculty of Education and Arts - Graduate Speaker: Ben Croker

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Mr Ben Croker

Pro-Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, distinguished guests, family, friends, loved ones and fellow graduates. What an incredible honour and privilege it is for me to stand here before you all today representing the graduating class of 2015.

This morning we gather here together to mark the successful completion of our academic studies. Congratulations everybody! We actually made it!

When a close friend recently asked me to describe how I felt looking back at this past 12 months of study, I was at a complete loss for words – which isn’t great for someone with ambitions to become a professional writer?

So I thought long and hard about it and the nearest thing to an analogy that I could come up with was that it felt like taking a 10 month non-stop ride on the world’s craziest rollercoaster!

Now, I actually love the rush of adrenaline you get from rollercoasters! But no matter how many times I’ve been to Disneyland and ridden on Space Mountain... or jumped off a 300ft canyon swing in New Zealand, nothing can prepare you for the ride of your life that is... the WA Screen Academy!

From the moment the 22 of us were “strapped in” on that first day back in February... what an incredible adventure we have all had... working together as a team to create some truly amazing and life-affirming screen projects.

The highs were extremely high – getting the opportunity to see my words come to life on the big screen for the very first time was a dream come true for me. But for every high point there were equally challenging lows – regularly staying up until 5am in order to meet assignment deadlines, or pouring your heart and soul into a project which, for circumstances beyond your control, just didn’t see the light of day.

There were twists and turns at every corner that nobody saw coming – going from being a producer and leading a team on set one day... to the being the caterer and dish washer on another set the next day, was a humbling learning experience.

And then finally there was that long dark tunnel, which Dr Cathy Henkel - the Director of the Screen Academy, pre-warned us all about. With deadlines for multiple projects fast approaching, and too many tasks to be completed...

I wasn’t actually sure that we would all come out of that tunnel in one piece... but we did. And we were all the stronger for it in the end.

I am sure you have each faced your own very similar personal obstacles and challenges along the journey in order to reach this pinnacle of graduation - So what lies ahead for us now, as we step off our ECU adventure ride and venture out into the ‘real world’?

As freshly-minted graduates, we look forward to an exciting future ahead as we step forth, into the world beyond the walls of our university campus, and actively pursue careers in our chosen areas of specialisation. Some of us may now choose to step away from the academic rollercoaster for good...  some others love the ride so much that they just can’t get off, and instead jump straight back on to go around again – and others, like myself, might just head off into unchartered territories in search of an even bigger thrill-ride in order to satisfy our appetite for adventure.

Whatever path you choose to take going forward, don’t ever forget about the amazing, incredible times you have had here at Edith Cowan University – All the wonderfully talented friends who you have had the pleasure of meeting and working with along the way... the supportive and nurturing staff who have pushed and challenged us all to overcome our fears... and the partners, friends and family at home who have held our hands, wiped away our tears, and encouraged us to keep going when the light at the end of the tunnel seemed unreachable and just too far away.

There is a reason that we are called an ‘Arts Community’, and the biggest lesson that I have learnt here at ECU is that so much of what we do as creatives is a team sport. Collaboration and cooperation are the keys to ongoing success in this industry – so take these relationships which have been formed here and nurture them... love them... care for them, and watch them continue to grow into something truly special.

...and finally, whatever you do... don’t forget to laugh! As the great man Walt Disney once said - “Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, dreams are forever.”  No matter what curve-balls and double-looped upside-down hang-by-the-seat-of-your-pants challenges life throws you in the future, just always remember to smile... and enjoy the ride.                                

Thank You

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