Text of the commencement address delivered to the Wayland Class of 2019 by Trustee Terrence Wilson `02.
I want to share three pieces of advice I think you will find useful as you begin your post-Wayland journey. I am not going to stand up here and act like I have life figured out because I don’t, so don’t think of this interaction as a speech but more as a friendly one-sided conversation from one Wayland alum to a group of soon to be alums. The three pieces of advice are live life to the fullest, trust your process, and keep it cordial.
First point, live life to the “fullest.” When I say live life to the “fullest” I mean you should try your best every day to keep your life “full” of people who you love and care about and who feel the same way about you. I had a great experience at Wayland. I learned if you keep the right type of people around you, there’s nothing you can’t overcome. I have good days and bad days, but I don’t have empty days because my days are full of amazing people. As you begin to expand your post-Wayland network, remember, people, enter your life for one of four reasons…to add, subtract, multiply or divide. Choosing your network wisely will allow you to live life to the fullest.
Second piece of advice: trust your process. I don’t think you need the “if you work hard you can be successful speech,” but I do want to give you the failure speech. One of the most underrated things our parents do for us during our adolescence is protect us from disappointment and failure. As you enter the next chapter of your lives, you will begin to feel the impact of your failures in a way you probably never have before, but if you trust your process, everything will be OK. Simply put the process is your unique approach to life. When things begin to go wrong or not work out exactly as you expected, you may start to doubt your process but always remember in life the journey is just as important as the destination. If you stay true to your process and grounded in your values and morals, things will work out just the way they are suppose too.
Last piece of advice: remember to keep it cordial. The Webster’s dictionary defines “cordial” as warm and friendly. However, in Wayland lingo “cordial” is an adjective used to describe an event you must attend. If you are like I was, you may be thinking “I can’t wait to graduate, so I don’t have to attend or participate in any more events unless I really want to.” Those thoughts are completely understandable, but it is imperative that you continue to operate outside of your comfort zone as much as possible while you are in college. Keep it cordial and continue to experience different things with different people. If you are an athlete keep supporting the arts, if you are a domestic student continue to hang out with international students. If you come from means, become friends with students who come from more humble beginnings…trust me you will be better for it and so will our nation. I believe we struggle because it can be more comfortable to spend our time with people who look, act and think like we do. But I need the 2019 Wayland graduates to be the generation of thoughtful, empathetic opened minded leaders who will remind the world we are more similar than dissimilar, and we are stronger together than we could ever be apart. Just like Wayland, when you go to college the learning that occurs outside of the classroom will be just as crucial to your growth as a person as the learning that occurs in the classroom. And I’ll tell you this, being intelligent in the academic sense of the word is very important, and it will take you far in life. But there’s nothing more powerful than a woman or a man who can bring and keep people together.
Keeping it cordial is something I struggled to do in college, but it’s something I believe in, and I always try to remind myself to seek out unique learning opportunities. I came across one such opportunity about four-weeks ago here on campus. During our last board meeting, the board members had an opportunity to attend senior capstone presentations. Instead of going to these presentations, I thought about taking a quick power nap, but I figured it would be good to see what our seniors were up to. I learned some valuable information that has undoubtedly made me a more interesting and relatable person. For example, I learned you can make music using algorithms instead of actual instruments. If I ever decide to make prom dresses for a living, I learned that silk is a difficult fabric to use for your first dress and I should allow myself about 100 hours to complete my first dress. Finally, I learned when I plan my next vacation, I should give serious consideration to visiting the beautiful Caribbean island of Dominica, not to be confused with the Dominican Republic.
The story brings it all together. Keeping it cordial, point 3, is a part of my process, point 2, and that led to the Swan library where I filled 60 minutes with some amazing people, point 1, and yes, those amazing people were the 2019 Wayland graduates.
Mr. Lennertz has been known to say, “Our students come to Beaver Dam to meet the world.” I would like to wish the 2019 graduating class of Wayland Academy nothing but the best as you leave Beaver Dam to change the world.