Commencement Speech – Veronica Pitzl

May 13, 2024

It is my honor to welcome you to Briar Cliff University’s 2024 graduation ceremony. My name is Veronica Pitzl, and I am one of the many here today, excited and ready to receive my diploma and open the door to my future.  

Thank you to everyone who traveled, whether it be 2000 miles or just 2, for being here today for this celebration. You are the reason why many of us pursued a degree and made it to where we are today.  

To the 2024 graduating class, we are finally here, and we did the dang thing! 

I want all of the graduating students to think back four long years to when we were freshmen. Coming to college during the infamous COVID-19 was a shock. We were segregated into learning communities and had to fend for ourselves in block scheduling. I specifically remember an assignment from one of my core classes freshman year: " Make a video describing your passion and purpose in life.” 

I was a little discouraged when they asked ME as a FRESHMAN to already know what I wanted to do with my life and to define my passion and purpose. All I was thinking about at that time was what the cafe was serving for supper that night and if I needed to mentally prepare for an excruciating long practice the next day. I was mad that this was even an assignment, and on top of it, we had to submit a video to the professor with our answer. I don’t know if anyone is like me, but having to submit a video where I had to hear my voice and see my little face on the screen was not something I was interested in doing. But the assignment was still due regardless of whether I wanted to do it or not….  and what was worse than making a video in my eyes… well, that was failing a class! So, I had to do it!  

I did some research on the Internet. I looked up what the definition of passion is. According to the Oxford Dictionary, passion is a “strong and barely controllable emotion.” Now, that didn’t really give me much to work with since hunger is a barely controllable emotion for me. So, I quickly looked up the word: purpose. The dictionary came up with this definition for purpose. “The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” 

This posed several questions within me. What was I created for? Do I have a secret vocation that God wants me to fulfill? What is the reason that I even exist? What is my purpose?  

I’m sure I wasn’t alone in these thoughts.  

For the assignment, I came up with two main purposes for my life. One: be the best sister I can be to my brothers. WOW! Simple, safe answer, Veronica. Good Job! And secondly, my other purpose was to touch as many lives as possible. That is what has always fueled my drive to become a nurse.  

But you know what?!  

I am here to tell you that it is okay not to know just yet about what your future may look like, but it is important to look back on the past four years and appreciate what it took for us to be here today.  

Deciding what major and minors we wanted to pursue was challenging, but with the help of our advisors and faculty at Briar Cliff, we were able to make that decision and transition much easier. 

We are able to become the people we once dreamed of being all thanks to the people and memories we made here at BCU.   

Everyone has a unique passion, whether that be the sport they play, a club they joined, or any hobby that interests them. We are all special in a different way, and I believe that throughout our four years at Briar Cliff, we have defined ourselves and paved our own path in society. 

We have built lifelong friendships with our peers and even some faculty as well.  

Following the aspirations and dreams we developed, we are all here today to celebrate the journey that it took to become who we are and who we want to be in the future. 

Not everyone’s journey is the same, and that is okay!  

During this time of transitioning from student to employee / student to small business owner / student to even the next president, we have Briar Cliff to thank, and the professors and the studies we underwent to become who we are today.  

The Briar Cliff experience is truly one that no one can take away from us. The friends and relationships that we made here will continue into the coming years and hopefully forever. 

We are all at a pivotal point in our future, and I am happy to announce that even if our passions and purposes have changed since freshman year, we are all strong and capable people who are going to impact the world in amazing ways. So, cheers to graduating and cheers to our new lives we are just beginning.  

Thank You! 

Veronica Pitzl


Harrisburg, SD