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Commencement Speech: Dawson Forcella

May 14, 2022

Hello everybody and thank you for joining us today to celebrate this big moment that all of us have worked so hard for.  

My name is Dawson Forcella, I am a Mass Communication major from Greybull, Wyoming. How I ended up in Iowa is a mystery to us all. 

I have been thinking about graduating and this speech for some time now. You know, I think the last 10 times someone has asked me what my plan is after graduating, my answer has been, in some form or another: Trying not to end up homeless. 

While that is a joke, there is a part of me that has meant it.  

The real world is knocking on my door and for the last 5 years, yeah 5, I have been barricading that door and acting like I’m not home. You know, like when you were a kid and your parents finally leave you home alone, but they say don’t answer the door.  

Eventually you reach a point though, where all of the sudden you are trying to get through that door like your tail is on fire. I’m sure that many of us can relate, even if you aren’t in that fifth year like yours truly. 

While some of us have spent our time in college hiding from the real world, or some of us sprinting towards it, I think we have all learned some important lessons.  

There are the cliché lessons like learning how to think for ourselves, how to take chances, then immediately learning how to take responsibility for taking those chances, and so many other lessons.  

A couple of lessons that may not be so commonly addressed are perspective and how we approach everything we do. These two things tie into the values that have been the base of our education over our time here at Briar Cliff. During the last few years as students here, we have learned and practiced the values of building a caring community, peacemaking, reverencing creation, and connecting with joyful service.  

I encourage you all to carry these values into the next chapter of your life. 

Build a caring community. Love your neighbors and build relationships with others. 

Practice peacemaking. Love and peace may not always be the easiest path, but they are always the most rewarding. 

Reverence creation. Love and respect all that we have in this world. In all of time and space, we were blessed to live here and now.  

Lastly, connect with joyful service. Have a positive perspective and approach. Be open, be available, develop relationships, and serve others. 

As I mentioned, perspective and approach tie into those values. I would like to expand on that. Perspective is important.  

There are times where we look around and get down on ourselves. We lose perspective of what is important. There are times we think we have failed. I think we can all say we have failed at one thing or another. I know I have failed at many things. And there have been times when I let it eat at me, discourage me, and hold me back. But failure can be one of the most powerful tools in self-development. In fact, I think sometimes we need to re-evaluate what failure actually is. 

True failure is quitting and giving up. It is throwing in the towel and letting an obstacle prevent you from ever trying again. Then there is this perceived failure that is more so just a bump in the road. Maybe we didn’t accomplish what we wanted, but it didn’t stop us. We learned how to get over, around, or under that obstacle. We might have had to scratch and claw our way through it, but we did it.  

In reality, this idea of failure is the best way to move forward. I once heard someone say, “Go out there and fail fast and often! Because if you fail fast, you learn fast.” This “Failure” is where growth happens. You likely won’t come out on the other side of it the same, and you shouldn’t. Through challenges and obstacles we grow, we develop and evolve into better, stronger versions of ourselves. It all comes back to perspective.  

While chasing success is always great, I urge you to take a step back and look at it a different way. If you strip everything away: the social media, the money, the titles…. The only thing that remains and truly matters is relationships. We share this world with people. Can you imagine if you were the only person in the world? Even if you had everything you ever wanted: money, material things, whatever else… what good would it be if you had no one to share it with or experience it with?  

I think when we take the time to realize the blessings in our life, everything changes. It is relationships and the idea of the caring community that should be a priority. Keep chasing success and your goals, but don’t forget that people and your relationships with those people are what matter. 

So, as we go out into the world, I encourage you and I challenge you to keep these things in mind. Always think about how you approach everything you do. Take failure as an opportunity to learn, grow, and move forward. Remember those that have been there for you, and be there for somebody else. 

Thank you all for celebrating this day with us. We are grateful to share this moment with our families, friends, and the faculty and staff of Briar Cliff. Thank you for modeling and embodying the Franciscan values for us personally. 

Thank you,

Dawson Forcella
Mass Communication Major
Greybull, Wyoming

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