If you’re just starting college, or even if you’ve been at it for a few semesters, you’ve probably gotten advice from lots of people – professors, friends, parents, acquaintances – whether you wanted it or not. Librarians aren’t shy about handing out advice either, but for today, we thought we’d share some words of wisdom from those most likely to know what you’re experiencing, because they’ve recently been right where you are. Here are excerpts from the speeches given by the valedictorian and salutatorian of last year’s graduating NYSCAS class, Yasmin Itshakov and Eleanor Moquete. We hope that you’ll find inspiration and guidance for a successful fall semester and along your path to your own moment on the graduation stage.
“When I was a child my parents always emphasized the importance of education and told me that I can achieve anything I set my mind to. These words have resonated with me throughout all my years of college. I’m sure every graduate standing in this room has faced numerous obstacles while trying so hard to pursue a career. These obstacles included trying to balance a life with being a dedicated student, parent, spouse, and employee. Each of us standing here today embodies the true definition of a hard worker. We could’ve all given up when the times got hard and could have let our fear of failure prevent us from reaching this day. But we all pushed through it. We didn’t let our fear get the best of us. Graduates of 2017, we should all be proud of how far we’ve come. However, this is only the beginning. On this graduation day, we must continue to dream big and remember we are capable of more than we think. I would never in a million years have imagined myself standing here today on this stage facing my biggest fear, public speaking, head on.
My fellow students, our journey has just begun and we must not forget how far we’ve come. The fact that we are here today shows that we are capable of reaching great heights. As long as we persevere, we can overcome any obstacles. Let’s rise to the occasion and let our passion drive us to become the people we aspire to be. As the best-selling author Sheryl Sandburg said, ‘Being confident and believing in your own self-worth is necessary to achieving your potential.'”
-Yasmin Itshakov, Valedictorian, Class of 2017
“As a student, I stepped out of my comfort zone. Not only was I immersing myself in my academics, but I was making lifelong friendships with many of you. The courses I enrolled in gave me hands-on experience. I was able to learn about my major beyond the syllabus, thanks to my fellow classmates and professors who worked in the discipline.
There are so many highlights to talk about, like when I got my first 4.0. I was never as delighted to rush home and tell my mother as I was in that moment. It raised my confidence level and showed me that if you surround yourself with hard working students, who also hunger for success, anything is possible – and no one can ever tell you otherwise!
If I could offer you one piece of advice, it would be this: Push past yesterday’s limits, because you never know how far you will go tomorrow.”
-Eleanor Moquete, Salutatorian, Class of 2017