December 2017 Graduation Address by Brianna Lynn Anderson

Good Afternoon, how is everyone doing today?

Greetings to all family, friends, faculty & staff, alumni, and most importantly the honorable class of 2017!

I am Brianna Lynn Anderson, and as your fellow classmate, I am elated that we can finally say "we did it"! We have broken barriers, we have shattered glass ceilings, we have become affirmative influences.

A little over 4 years ago, I was pretty apathetic about this particular day, but the anticipation and eagerness for December 17 grew over time. The initial feelings I had when moving into Richardson Towers so many years ago were actually fear, concern, and anxiety. I know those are three heavy words, but I feared failure, and I feared defeat. I knew there would be a drastic difference in accountability, and I was afraid I was not going to meet the standards I set for myself. Overall, I feared change.

Well, little did I know there were more challenges coming my way then I had speculated. College comes with its own unique set of hardships that vary from student to student. If that challenge isn't emotional, like having to retake a course you thought you were doing well in, or physical, like having to wake up at the break of dawn, to beat traffic, find parking, and make it to class on time. You can definitely expect to come across a mental battle that could range from simply having a bad day to dealing with the loss of a loved one who you expected to watch you cross this stage today.

The feelings of concern and anxiety that I felt on move-in day, and when I sat in my first college course propelled me into making a 3.8 GPA my first semester here at The University of Memphis. Those are the same feelings that drove me to where I am standing today. Whether you came straight from frosh camp, or it was your first time being in America, or even if you came from your full time job that's needed in order to provide for your family. I am sure all of us had some insecurity on the first day pursuing a higher education, it is a feeling that can never be forgotten. Take a look around at where you are right now.

Even though we made it to commencement and it seems as if we have already done enough. I encourage each and every one of you act as if the concept of "enough" does not exist. You see, the concept of enough implies sufficiency, and sufficiency implies the end but today I am going to explain to you that this is far from the end.

As each and every one of you depart from this facility today, know that this moment is only the beginning. As we move our tassels from the right to the left let that be the start to a lifetime of achievements and success. Typically, this tradition represents completion and transformation of a candidate into a graduate, but let it stand for more than just that. Let it depict the change from who you were coming into this experience to who you have grown to be. Let it symbolize the first seed you embed in your foundation. Most importantly, let it serve as a reminder that we still have things to do and life-long goals to meet. Let the time spent at The University of Memphis serve as the soil to the rest of your life as you grow. Not to only your life, but to your families lives, and to the lives of the generations that follow. Treat this opportunity not simply as an experience, but as the foundation to your future; to your growth.

Fortunately, the society that we live in gives us the choice of what we do with the foundations that we have established. We can choose to water and nurture our foundation and prepare it for our immense succession that has yet to come. The extraordinary freedom of having that choice is what will give you the capability to progress forward.

As I look into the crowd this evening and see students representing different countries, different areas of academic focus, and ultimately different walks of life. I cannot wait to see the legacies you create, the ideas you innovate, and the many lives you save. As I leave you today, keep in mind that this ceremony, this degree, and this moment right now... is only the beginning.

Congratulations class of 2017, and thank you for listening.