At my First Year Academic Convocation on August 28th, 2016, I looked at the student speaker and thought “yeah, that’s going to be me”.
Back on February 14th, 2017, I got an email from LMU's First Year Experience with a link to an OrgSync submission page with the guidelines on how to submit quotes for the Class of 2021. At LMU, every class has their own “class motto” (My class’s quote, the Class of 2020, is “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are” by E.E. Cummings). So when I found out that the residence hall who submitted the most quotes got a pizza party, I started started submitting quotes from my “100 best quotes” google searches during my Philosophy class.
On April 24th, 2017, I got another email from LMU’s First Year Experience, but this one was a little different. Instead of addressing the entire freshmen class, it was just to me. “Dear Elizabeth, I hope this email finds you well…”. I was informed that one of my quotes was chosen; “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world” by Nelson Mandela. My quote being chosen meant a few things, the motto sets the framework for their First Year Academic Convocation and at Commencement four years later, the motto is visible across campus being displayed on monitors across campus, on posters in offices and rooms around LMU, and proudly worn on t-shirts by students. It also meant that I would be addressing the entire incoming class at their Convocation. I would be giving a speech to over 1,600 people.
My prepping adventures started immediately. I met with the First Year team, went over previous speeches, and started outlining. This process lasted all summer, I continuously drove to LMU to make edits and talk to my advisor, but it honestly went by fast. Before I knew it, my final draft was approved and I was only a few weeks away from the event I had been anxiously awaiting.
Finally, it was Sunday, August 27th. I was prepped for the day, spent time in the Presidential Suite, and addressed the audience. Here’s my video!
"Good morning everyone and welcome to Loyola Marymount University. It’s my pleasure to stand here before you today as a fellow lion and your convocation student speaker.
To begin, I want to applaud each and every one of you for every step you took in order to get yourself here today. For the last few months, you’ve been anticipating this transition you’re about to embark on. Today, you are officially becoming first-year students at an distinguished university - a university that will encourage, inspire and challenge you: a university I have come to love more than anything.
I remember my first weekend as a first-year student. After receiving my housing assignment and officially meeting my “we found each other on Facebook” roommate, it was time to move into 302, my new home. I immediately noticed that college was much different than high school. For the first time, I had an opportunity to pursue new passions and embrace my identity without the bubble of my hometown pressuring me.
Fast forward to a few weeks into the fall semester, I had fallen in love with a class that completely changed my view of the world. Race in Contemporary Society taught me about subjects I had never explored before; expanding my knowledge on issues that I knew existed but didn’t know how to approach. Fortunately, this class taught me how to be an advocate for those being oppressed. I can use my privileges and my voice to stand up for those facing hardships I don’t face myself. Become an ally, give others the hope and the support they need to keep being themselves in a world where doing so is more difficult to accomplish than it sounds. By using the skills you learn in your classroom, use you use your voice to make our campus, our city, and our world a better place. By learning how to use your privileges to benefit others, it reiterates that education is the key to fostering peace. Education is an investment, and one of the most critical investments we can make. This is not only true at LMU, it’s the reality for everyone around the world. It’s not enough to just know that “something” is happening in our world; to stand by and watch others fight. You have to really understand what’s occurring and seek to understand more about it, to educate yourself. As Nelson Mandela once said, Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world. I know that your class can help change the world for the better.
My biggest takeaway from my first year of college and something I hope you realize yourself is that no one should be discouraged by the amount of hard work education requires. No matter how tiring balancing classes may seem, anyone who achieved any success needed to really work for it. In the world we live in today, people often try to find “quick fixes” for their hardships. If you put in hard work now, you’ll have lasting knowledge. I can guarantee you that with hard work, dedication, and belief in yourself, you can achieve anything you put your mind to. That being said, at LMU, everyone is here to support you and your journey. Never be afraid to ask for help. Collaboration allows us to capture each other's skills and talents in order to fuel our collective intelligence.
Lions, be true to yourself and search for the things you’re passionate about because your journey of changing the world starts now. With your first year of college ahead of you, I implore you all to create change. Your time is now, don’t waste it and don’t be reluctant to try something new. Our unique LMU education strengthens and unites us, and as a result, you shouldn’t ever be afraid to stand up for something you believe in. We all believe in you, Class of 2021. Welcome home."
Convocation was amazing. I felt so honored to be apart of such an amazing event and have the opportunity to share my voice with so many people.
I wanted to take this moment to thank Julia (my advisor), my grandma, my parents, Jack, Katie, Aisea, Jessie, Mackenzie, Anushka for her sweet message, my Pi Phi sisters who gave me so much encouragement, and everyone who sent such nice messages!