As graduating seniors gathered together one last time for commencement, they were left with parting advice before heading out into the world.
De. Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith America, gave the commencement address. He shared his thoughts on how to remain confident even when experiences inevitably become difficult.
“Every transition is hard, perhaps none more so than the transition from college to the so-called real world,” Patel said. “There will be problems to solve, challenges to meet, and mountains to climb. Here is my advice for how to navigate these difficulties: Find people who believe in you. What do I mean by that? I mean people who help you articulate your aspirations and align your gifts and assets so that you can achieve them. People who know that adversity and aspersions are simply a part of life — and that your story is about overcoming them, not letting them overcome you. People who are clear-eyed about the obstacles that will stand in your way but exhort you to focus on the opportunities in front of you and to make the most of those.”
Student speaker Ramona Lyttle shared how she persevered through intense obstacles to become a Concordia graduate. She was abandoned as a newborn and grew up at the SOS Children Villages International — Jamaica. Later, she had the opportunity to study in Norway through the Davis United World College program before arriving at Concordia and becoming the college’s first Davis Scholar to graduate here. She challenged Cobbers to use obstacles and setbacks as opportunities for personal growth and self-development and encouraged them to follow Concordia’s and SOS’s mission to positively impact the world.
“Be resilient and flexible in your approach,” Lyttle said. “Treat yourself and others with empathy and kindness. Have faith in your unique path. Stay committed to your aspiration. Work hard without giving up because, with determination and perseverance, you have the potential to achieve anything you desire.”
As his last comments to students before he retires this summer, President William Craft gave words of encouragement.
“All my life I’ve been the kind of person who has his finger on the bottom of the page ready to turn it, wondering what’s next,” he said. “I’m taking my finger off the page, and what I want to say is: The Class of 2023, you’re what’s next. We have faith in you.”
Congratulations, Class of 2023!