Commencement Speech: Miranda Valdovinos

Good morning and thank you. Graduates, loved ones, and distinguished faculty members, it is an honor to be here with you. Buenos días y gracias. Graduados, seres queridos y distinguidos miembros de la facultad, es un honor estar aquí con ustedes.

I’m so grateful to Briar Cliff University for allowing me the privilege of speaking to you today. As previously mentioned my name is Miranda Valdovinos but you can all call me Miranda.

When writing this speech I kept in mind one of my favorite professors here at The Cliff, Dr. Amy Boland. Anyone who has taken a class with her knows that she often says to keep things like a mini skirt - long enough to cover the important bits and short enough to keep things interesting and breezy. That is my intention today.

A little background on me, I arrived at The Cliff in the fall of 2021 as a transfer student, I had just received my associates degree. That is why many of my fellow graduates have no idea who I am.

As I sat down and wrote this speech, I felt as though I was not worthy to speak at Commencement. I haven’t been here long enough, I wasn't a freshman at Briar Cliff in 2019 like many of my fellow undergrads.

But, then I realized this isn’t about me, this is about us, and I may not have walked in here with you but I am walking out with you.

I mention this because I want to highlight the fact that we all had different journeys to get here. For some, we came in as traditional students and others non-traditional. Every single one of us has a completely different story.

One of my favorite quotes comes from St. Francis. He once said “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

This moment once felt unreachable, a dream and perhaps an impossible one. As a first-generation student, it did for me. In our collegiate career we put in hours of work, sacrifice, and stress. We also shed tears and sweat, maybe blood if you’re an athlete.

But we didn’t give up, we took the impossible and made it possible.

When we were little we didn't know who we’d become. We had dreams for some it was being a doctor or a teacher, for me I wanted to be a princess.

When we graduated high school we were expected to know who we wanted to become. Some of us were set on being a nurse, or a social worker. I had no clue what I was going to do, maybe something in history.

My point is that life changes and we change with it, we all grew so much during this chapter of our lives and we will grow even more in our next.

For some this is where your academic life concludes: congratulations.
For others continuing with graduate school, like myself: also congratulations.

We may have an idea of what our future will look like, but we also faced covid during our time in higher education, so we know to expect the unexpected. For example, if you took a class with Dr. Wendy Brame, you know that she herself had a career change from a lawyer to a professor.

We never really know where the wind will take us, regardless of where we end up. I want you all to know I am so proud of you and I am rooting for each and every one of you in your next chapter.

I also want to take this moment to thank every single person who was rooting for us and who supported us from friends, family, and faculty. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.

A special thanks to my parents: "papas llegaron sin nada y me le dieron todo y por eso soy eternamente agradecida.” If you’re wondering what I said: "to my parents who arrived with nothing and gave me everything for that, I am eternally grateful."

So my fellow graduates, as we enter this next chapter, remember to do the necessary, the possible, and eventually the impossible.

Thank you so much.