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June 2009

Commencing the journey

Graduation day is a time of high emotions — excitement and doubt, giddiness and fear. And no more so than this year.

Members of the Class of 2009 — 2,300 strong — are entering the work force during the toughest economic climate since the Great Depression. But featured speaker Gov. Bev Perdue encouraged the class to take risks. “If I were you, I’d decide right now to set tremendously high expectations for my life.”

Class speaker Kiya D. Ward was already ahead of her. Take a few moments to read some of Kiya’s words and be encouraged by the promise of the future.

“As I look into the audience today, amongst the blindness that these beautiful bedazzled graduation caps bring, there is both a sense of uncertainty and ease. On some faces, there are smiles hiding the fear of what is to come. Some of us have no idea what tomorrow will bring while others of us have our whole year or life planned out. Well, whatever our current circumstance, no matter how certain or unsure, remember that it is not the determining factor of our future.

“Statistics show that our current circumstance has us in the worst economic situation in decades. People say that now is one of the worst times to seek employment. People say that things just ‘aren’t the way they used to be.’ That is what some ‘people’ say. I, however, say differently. I say that although we may be in one of the worst economic situations in decades, this Class of 2009 is full of accountants, financial advisors and bankers who are ready to take on the economy full force and correct the wrong that has been done. I say that while school systems across the world are getting more crucial, the Class of 2009 is full of teachers, principals and superintendents who are ready and willing to enter the classroom and take charge. I say that the Class of 2009 is full of future politicians, nurses, social workers and scholars. We are a class of overcomers and we can and will make a difference in the world today. Some of you may be thinking, ‘But Kiya, how can you be so sure?’ Well let’s see…

“We are the class who experienced war for the duration of our collegiate career. We are the class who mourned the death of Heath Ledger, Bernie Mac and Natasha Richardson. We are the class who went out to the polls and voted our first African-American president, Barack Obama, into office as well as watched Bev Perdue become the first female governor of North Carolina. We are the class that scholars have spent countless hours studying. Scholars as well as members of society want to know why we do what we do, why we think like we think, and why we are so different from years past. They ask, ‘Who are we?’ Well, for members of society and any other scholars who may be in the audience today, I answer your question by saying that we are a class of pride, integrity and respect. We are innovators, entrepreneurs, educators and, quite frankly, we are a class like no other. We aren’t a class made of the traditional college age students, rather in front of me is a class ranging in age from early 20s to early 80s. In front of me are fiancés, husbands, wives and grandparents. In front of me are people who changed their majors one, two, three and some even four times just to get it right. Our best friends range between Freud, Aristotle, Starbucks, midnight snacks and energy drinks. Our service to the UNCG and greater Greensboro community is innumerable. Habitat for Humanity, Big Brother/Big Sister and Greensboro Urban Ministries are all in our everyday vocabulary. We are a class of change and it is the change from this Class of 2009 that is going to transform and revolutionize the world as you know it. Class of 2009, the charge has been made, the choice is yours. Good luck and may the wisdom of Minerva and the pride of the Spartan forever be with you.”

See a slideshow of all the colorfully customized mortar boards at the 2009 Commencement.











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