Some of you may know that I was a finalist to become the Millor Orator. Ken Clar will receive that opportunity, and frankly, I cannot think of a better person to represent the class. But in this opportunity, I’d like to share a shortened version of my speech: 1200 words to 500 for this column. Here are the highlights.
Why did you decide to come to John Carroll University? Maybe you loved how beautiful the campus was. Perhaps you received scholarships here. Or maybe John Carroll had the perfect academic program for you. There are many reasons why we all chose John Carroll University, but those reasons do not seem to go deep enough to answer the question: Why are you here?
Before the philosophy majors beat me to it, I’d like to propose an answer to this question. You are here, because at some point in your life, you found yourself utterly restless. You longed for something beyond what you had, that a college education could provide, such as new friends, a great job, a significant other, or even just a good time. Restlessness brought us to John Carroll, but restlessness did not leave us alone after we arrived here.
Adjusting to a Jesuit academic rigor, meeting new friends, deciding on a major, and discerning what that smell really was in the depths of Murphy Hall, were all challenges facing the freshman class of 2014. Through our four years here, our restlessness for something great brought us through many shared experiences.
We were determined to study. Some made the commute through the tundra that is a Cleveland winter, while others fought through the wind and snow to arrive at the far off land known as: The Dolan Center for Science and Technology. Finals and tests were intense, but our friendships kept us grounded.
On a social level, we claimed tables on various sides of the Schott Dining Hall. Some took to social media to follow countless John Carroll Twitter accounts. And only a brave few had the courage to walk across the quad in order to get to class on time.
Luckily, in the midst of academia, we as a class managed to keep a social life at John Carroll by attending Campus and SUPB events, taking the RTA downtown, or wandering down Warrensville, looking for a friend’s house.
All of these experiences have led us to this moment: Commencement. At this climax in our undergraduate careers, many of us have received a taste of what it means to have journeyed through a Jesuit education. But what about in our postgraduate experience?
Not all of us are called to give up our lives, leave our families and do some sort of missionary work in order to be a radical person who changes the world. Mother Teresa new this best when she said, “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” If I may I’d like to add to her quote saying, “Doing things with great love is radical. Letting restlessness inspire you to be men and women for and with others is radical in any setting.”
We can choose to drone through the motions of life, be average people, and let our hearts be anesthetized by fear, never taking risks.
Take note of how you are feeling right now. Sitting in your seat, maybe anxious, maybe excited, maybe both: waiting for the movement to walk up here, shake the hand of the President, and receive the diploma you truly deserve. You’re heart might even feel as little restless sitting there.
So take that restlessness and let it drive you to be people who live a life with purpose. Who reflect on our experience at Carroll. Who inspire others and catapult them into a positive future. Who know how to go out with our friends to laugh. Who let restlessness focus your actions into doing great things for and with others in all that you do in life.