Evans: ‘One journey ends & another begins’
When University of Wisconsin-Parkside student Julie Evans stepped on stage at graduation, she had a question to answer. The Business Management major from Beach Park, Ill., was asked to elaborate on the meaning graduation day. Her answers made it easy to understand why she was selected to be the Class of 2012 student speaker. "Today is our day of commencement, we enter into the 'real world' that so many of us have been talking about for four years. Well, in some cases, five, six, seven years," Evans said. "But, it's not about how long it took us to get to today; it's about the lessons we've learned and connections we've made that have prepared us for tomorrow."
While admitting to feeling "a bittersweet combination" of emotions including "nostalgia and excitement that comes when one journey ends and another begins," Evans said she and her classmates have come to understand that the breadth of a person's education can't be measured simply by a grade point average.
"Today, we realize education isn't only about the classes you've attended and the grades you've received, it's the experience you had along the way that helped shape our character, our attitude, and our goals," Evans stated. "We should be confident in our University of Wisconsin-Parkside education. You should be proud of the person sitting here today, and know that your hard work has paid off."
Calling the diploma an important milestone, Evans characterized it as a piece of a larger puzzle.
"The world beyond college will be another lesson in making adjustments, making new friends, and adapting to different demands," she advised students and a large contingent of her family member on hand to witness her speech. "But honestly, if there weren't any challenges out there to overcome, there'd never be any reason to be proud. If there weren't any fears to conquer, we'd never know how to trust ourselves even in our moments of self-doubt."
Evans said she and her fellow students are changed from the people they were when they entered the university.
"Today, we are University of Wisconsin-Parkside graduates, confident in our abilities and excited for our future success," Evans said. "We might look different, act different, and even think different [from the high school students who entered UW-Parkside]. But, thanks to this university, we change for the better. We use all of our skills and become people who have the courage to walk out those doors and say 'bring it on!'"
She concluded by defining the meaning graduation day.
"To answer the question of what today means, it means three things: today is the day we embrace our future opportunities, promise to make ourselves as good as we can be, and pursue our dreams."
Evans then congratulated her fellow graduates and stated emphatically: "We did it!"Evans' full speech is available on the UW-Parkside web site.