The following are remarks from Senior Class Speaker, Dalia Dahir, at this year’s Commencement Ceremony.
“First off, I would like to thank everyone for being here and joining us on our special day.
Before I officially get started, this is a moment I truly never want to forget so I’m going to take a quick picture of the audience right now – and if I could get Jerry Nuessell to help me for a second, that would be great.
Now I want to start off by telling everyone here how incredible it is that I am up here today giving this speech. My senior year of high school I had no idea what I wanted to do in life, let alone what college I would be going to. My mother, who graduated last year, was a student here at Peace and suggested I apply. At the time I was running out of options and honestly, this was my last one. When I arrived at Peace, I wasn’t sure that this was where I wanted to be. I attempted to transfer my entire first year here. I realize now that at the time it wasn’t that I didn’t like Peace, I just didn’t like college in general. Luckily, I chose to stay and here I am after four years graduating from a place I can call home. It’s crazy for me to think that it has already been four years. This time four years ago we inaugurated our first African American president, Barack Obama, we lost one of the greatest entertainers of all time, Michael Jackson, and we were all terrified of getting the swine flu.
I am truly happy that I didn’t leave Peace because I honestly wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had for anything at any other school – everything from extremely late nights studying for exams and writing seemingly endless papers to the late night Cookout runs and dance parties in between (maybe not so much being harassed by the squirrels though). What makes Peace so special is that it is so small. I never would have gotten the opportunity to get to know almost every faculty and staff member or recognize most of the students at a larger school. It’s almost impossible not to make bonds with the people here. I can truly say that I love my fellow graduates and Peace sisters. Another great thing about this school is that we are creating thinkers. We aren’t producing thousands of students that are all going to become engineers or employees in multi-million-dollar companies. The world needs more people that are going to go out in the world and make it a better place. Most of you have heard the quote “good things come to those who wait,” but I like to think that good things come to those who work. The great headmaster Dumbledore once said. “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” I know you all are going to go out into the world and do great things and be passionate about it.
I would also like to take a second to acknowledge the school of professional study graduates that are here today with us as well. It’s a shame we didn’t get to work closely together these past four years, but I know you’ve all done great things here as well and will continue to succeed and excel in life.
We’ve all been through a lot these past few years. And I feel that I need to address the giant elephant in the room and talk about the changes here at Peace. We’ve experienced our school changing its name, its dynamic and how it works. Everyone has mixed feelings about the topic, but I wanted to say how truly proud I am of this class. I honestly think if it were any other graduating class experiencing this, they would not have been as graceful and resilient as we have been. Change is the only constant in life and everyone must learn to embrace it. This is probably one of the most resilient classes Peace has ever seen. The lessons we’ve learned here have prepared us to be great citizens of this world. We will shortly, and by shortly I mean a few days because we get our new alum emails by then, become alumni to this school and will somewhat have a say in the fate of it. If we continue to support our fellow Peace students, we can push toward progress. It has been a pleasure getting to know all of the new students here and I am sure I can speak for many of us seniors when I say that I look forward to the progression of Peace. I have gained sisters throughout my time and experiences here, and I am now leaving with brothers as well and I couldn’t be any happier.
Many of us here also have mixed emotions about graduating. Whether you’re excited, scared, or somewhere in between (I’m personally stuck in a glass case of emotion right now), just know that there is a large group of friends and family members sitting behind you with an incredible amount of love and support for each and every one of you. Also here behind me is a group of faculty and staff that have worked endlessly, tirelessly, and passionately to get you all where you are today. This is going to sound extremely cliché, but if we could each take a moment to close our eyes and think about one faculty member that has made the most impact on you in the past four years.
Alright, now open your eyes and let’s go ahead and give a round of applause for whoever you thought about because they definitely deserve it. I could stand up here and say great things about every faculty member, but the one that has had the most impact on me is Dr. Laura Vick. I took Physical Anthropology here three years ago and ever since then, she has had me hooked. All professors want their students to do well, but Dr. Vick goes above and beyond to ensure that her students learn a thing or two and are cared for at the same time. I’ve had the pleasure of spending the last three years growing, learning, and being continuously inspired by her. Many of my favorite memories from college are from going to Mexico with her two summers in a row. Once you climb a Mayan pyramid in the blazing sun with someone, a real bond forms. I will treasure the time I’ve spent with her and carry everything I’ve learned from her with me in the future. It’s sad to see her leave this school after over twenty years, but I know she will be off to do bigger and better things. Thank you for everything, Dr. Vick.
The future is unpredictable, but you have to go in to it with an open mind. People sometimes ask me why I’m so happy all of the time, and it really is because I choose to remain positive despite the hardships. It might also have to do with my slight obsession with cute sloth videos on YouTube, but positivity plays a big role too. Positivity has the power to do great things. There are many things in life that you cannot change, but you are capable of controlling your outlook on life, and it will eventually affect your future. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” To get where you want to go in life, you also have to work hard and stay humble. Life isn’t all about work though, so don’t let growing up stop the adventure. We’re all just stories in the end, so make it a good one. Tupac Shakur once said, “Life’s a wheel of fortune and it’s my chance to spin it.” This is your chance to go out into the world and take advantage of every opportunity you can. Once again, I am incredibly proud of all of you and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for each and every one of you. I’m proud to say that Peace has been my home for the past four years and many of you have become family to me. Stay classy Peace. And once again, I cannot thank you enough for selecting me as the graduation speaker. It’s been an absolute pleasure.”
- Dalia Dahir, Senior Class Speaker