Commencement Speech: Diontre’ Collins-Jones
May 8, 2021
Good morning class of 2021!
Thank you to the faculty, staff, administration, trustees, families, and friends for being here today and for your endless support leading up to this moment.
I want to start off with good news and bad news.
Good news is today. . . Today marks a milestone that your hard work and dedication has resulted in a degree!
The bad news is today… Today marks the end of the chapter of your life where you do not know your value.
Dr. Eric Thomas once said, "Stop living your life like it is an accident you are here today".
See in my personal life and story like many of us in this room can agree I once used to live like I wasn't supposed to be here.
Before I found my dream and motivation, I was on a path to building monuments of nothing. At one point I had 60 career aspirations with 40 get rich quick schemes and had made 0 progress towards making any of those plans come true. And that is 100% the truth.
During that time in my life, I spent more time making excuses for why I'm not where I want to be than actually making an effort. It wasn't until the day my beloved uncle sat me in front of a mirror and asked me, "Why aren't you happy?" I was in middle school at the time, and he asked this question to me after having to come to my school on behalf of my mother for the third time that week and I was giving him attitude. The reality wasn't that I was unhappy with life, but I had no direction and a lot of idol time.
So for the sake of my families sanity and my future I began to tryout passion projects. I woefully tried the drums and piano. I screeched my way out of choir. And I earned myself hospital trips trying to golf. Things seemed very bleak to until I met special individuals in my life that made me realize that there is a gift inside me that I was born with.
See my gift was never to be music star or a star athlete but that is of helping others. Through helping others and being the best person I could be I found my way into a college classroom where I met great friends, mentors, and faculty that I now call family and my journey is only beginning.
My fellow students, there is a gift inside each and every one of you that when you embrace it, that gift will force you to be more intentional about how you invest your time. That gift inside each and every one of you will make you realize that when performing and do what it is that the universe has called you to do, your confidence will shoot and your focus will be sharpened.
So let go of all fears and take limits off of yourself.
We are beginning to embark on a journey after college that will call for us to be who we need to be in this world and it is no accident where you may end up next when you embrace what it is that you are gifted with.
My message here for you today is do not hesitate, faultier, or fear what comes next on your journey. But embrace the next challenge and realize you are on the path you have been called to do and need to be diligent in making what comes with your gift light up the world. Because when you do that you'll be the light that continues to guide and shine upon others to do the same. And always remember there is no value in shrinking your light so that someone else can be brighter.
Thank you and congratulations,
Fort Wayne, Indiana