Every year, a graduate from each degree program is selected by their peers and faculty to speak at Commencement around a particular theme. This year, the speakers chose the theme “Crossings.” Below is the speech shared by Jade Brown, an MACP graduate.
I know a psychologist, Dr. Terrence Roberts. He was a member of the Little Rock Nine—the group of black high school students who volunteered to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. He has this saying—“I have not yet learned all there is to be known.” Isn’t that a powerful statement? This man whose life in many ways has embodied both turmoil and possibility—who has endured the rage, hopelessness, and helplessness of so many others—still expects more, still desires more, still hopes for more.
Today, I remember that I stand here in this moment because of Dr. Roberts.
It is good to look out into all of your faces, to share this moment together, one of our last as students at The Seattle School. It’s been my pleasure to be among you these three years. Let’s be honest—it hasn’t always felt good. At times it has felt lonely and painful, like I could not have made a worse decision than coming to school here. My hunch is that I’m not alone in that. But, my friends—heartache can be an excellent teacher. I am hopeful and grateful to be crossing over with you from student to graduate of The Seattle School.
“We have not yet learned all there is to be known.” The journey to this place has not been easy and yet it is not the end. We have each seen and heard things from which we cannot turn back—both the turmoil and the possibility. We must hold on to all of it. Not because we have found all the answers but because we have been charged again and again to ask the questions. Not merely for own sake, but also for the hope of others.
We will have so many opportunities to hold back rather than take risks, to be silent rather than make noise. Take risks! Make noise!
We will find work. (Oh, Lord in heaven, let it be!) We will lose work. We will ache for what we had and we will re-learn how to navigate the world outside the walls of 2501 Elliott Ave. We will remember ourselves and we will remember the dreams that led us here. Feed that dreamer with your gratitude, with your curiosity and with your courage. Let her—let him—live with your passion and your compassion.
Surround yourself with people who inspire you toward gratefulness even in the midst of despair. Gratitude is a powerful thing; I think it is the thing. We are lost without it. It will be hard to come by. It may not come naturally. I think weariness will come more quickly and doubt. We have not yet learned all there is to be known.
In the meantime, practice the habit of being grateful.
You all—we all–have fought to be sitting in these seats today. Look at who you have become.
Take a moment. Bless the journey that has brought you here and will lead you forward. Breathe that in. Feel the substance of your particular body in that seat. You made it. You are still here.
And you are not alone.