The Sixtieth Commencement Exercises
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Timoteo Pereira Neves
BA, English Language
Class of 2020
President, professors, administration, family and friends, honored guests, and fellow graduates of the class of 2020.
During the summer of 2019, I made a simple and honest wish. I wished that my final year at Haigazian would be unforgettable. Today, after burnt tires and demonstrations during Fall and lockdowns and online learning in Spring, I can confidently say that this wish has been fulfilled, not only to me, but to all graduates. I am certain we will never forget this past academic year.
My journey at Haigazian has given me an incredible wealth of lifelong lessons, but the gem which I shine light on is this: be kind first. First of all, because kindness is what the world desperately needs. American author Hellen Keller once said: “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow”. There is a lot of shadow for us to look at. The economy, the political situation, our prospects, all of this can certainly appear quite dim, specially after the devastating explosion in Beirut and its aftermath. For this reason, we turn instead to the sun rays. We turn to kindness. Kindness is also the key to belonging. Like some others at this university I was not born in this country, but I can confidently say that I belong to Haigazian. People showed me this kindness and I simply reciprocated. And lastly, kindness is the looking glass into our skills. Before remembering that we are teachers, doctors, psychologists, social workers, nutritionists, or IT technicians, those who cross our paths will first of all remember if we are kind. Good professionals are kind professionals.
We can clearly see this here at Haigazian. Our president personally greets each student and in occasions has even sat with us for a cup of coffee. Our professors might give horrendous exams, but most of them try to welcome us with warm smiles into their offices. We students kindly guide each other with campus, university life, and, more recently, with links to Zoom meetings. Some of our guards are willing to learn our languages or to help us learn theirs. We see this kindness in the administration, in the staff, in the Student Life Office, and without doubt in the Writing Center.
Fellow graduates, standing here today, I feel beyond honored, I feel blessed. And I imagine so should you. Many of us here rode roller coasters of uncertainties about whether we could complete courses, pay our tuitions, or have Wi-fi connections good enough to cope with our online activities. The truth is that without certain people in our lives, we would still be in that coaster car, yet today we have reached the finish line.
I believe I speak for all when I thank our parents and family members, our friends who endured our highs and lows, our Financial Aid office, and the Almighty, Kind God who made this achievement of ours possible and in whom this university still lays its foundations upon.
Fellow graduates, my hope is that we can be kind in truth, freedom, and service. May these values become our heritage from Haigazian University, and may they color not the letters and stamps of our degrees, but the essence of our lives.
Thank you, and Congratulations!