Dear graduates, parents, faculties and friends, it gives me great pleasure to stand before you and deliver this commencement speech. Being a part of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, has been a privilege that I will not forget that easily. A college that boasts of a mix of Asians, South and Latin Americans, Europeans, and others, I have never for once felt like a stranger here. During the course of my stay here, I have learnt a lot from my friends who are from different cultural and social backgrounds. It’s been a fascinating journey, and I’m sure all of you share my feelings. The fond memories notwithstanding, one thing that has left a lasting impression on me is the familial bonding that exists between students and professors.
It would be hard for me to pick out a single incident for special mention, but one that is truly close to my heart is the way a senior student of our college saved me from a certain embarrassment at the start of this academic year. I had never seen her before, and I was waiting for the public transport when a group of boys came up to me and started passing lewd comments about my ethnicity. I tried to ignore the comments and turned to look away, but the guys began to make more comments quite boisterously. There were a couple of people at the bus stop, but knowing that they were outnumbered by these guys, just looked on. I don’t blame them, for had they intervened, there could have been a scuffle leading to an all-out fight. I was sick inside and prayed that the bus would come soon and it didn’t. As their comments became more direct and threatened to spill over into a fight, this girl who was in a car that was passing by, suddenly stopped and walked straight up to me.
At first I thought she was going to gang up with these guys and join the vituperation, but what she did next, shocked me. She pushed the guys who had almost surrounded me to one side and caught me by my arm and asked me to follow her. Shocked and surprised at the same time, I didn’t protest and just walked away with her. When the guys who were equally surprised by her manner tried to stop her, she turned around and said that the person behind the wheel of the car was her father, a police officer and that it wouldn’t take him more than a minute to call for backup. The guys backed away and let us go.
I was happy to get away from those unruly guys that I didn’t even bother to ask her where we were going! It must have been a minute or two before I asked her where we were going. “To college of course,” she replied, and said that she knew me through a common friend. She was my friend’s classmate, and despite having seen me in college before, she didn’t know that her classmate was my friend. The reason why I wanted to say this in my commencement speech is because there is a notion in my part of the world that racism is there everywhere in the U.S. I disagree with this notion, despite the fact that I was almost mugged that day. All the years I’ve been here, I have never felt safer. The university is like a second home. The faculties are very considerate, the students treat us as one of them, and my classmates have treated me like family.
Yes, racism is there, but I have come to understand that those who do indulge in such petty behaviour are those who have nothing else to do. They don’t understand the value of brotherhood, and walk around like junkies. When I came to the U.S for the first time, and joined school, I was perhaps the only Asian in school. The kids in class would look at me as though they’ve seen a ghost. They would eye me suspiciously, and look closely at what I ate during the lunch break. This scene repeated itself for a few weeks, until at the end of the fourth week, things began to change. I began making friends. They would ask silly questions as to why I was eating this, or wearing that and so on, and I had an answer to each of them. What I have observed all my life here is that education teaches us a lot. The way our teachers want us to believe in things is what makes institutions a great place for knowledge accumulation. The reason why there is racism in this world is because not all people are lucky to get education. If I hadn’t come to the U.S to study, I too would have had a different story to tell about the people here, but thanks to my parents, I have the pleasure to experience first-hand what it is like to be a graduate student in the U.S. The people who do indulge in racist attacks are those who haven’t had the privilege to study in schools and colleges. It’s the same everywhere, and there is no justification in saying that Americans are racists. There is a lot that I have learned here, and I hope to carry these fond memories to my family and friends back home.
I salute the professors and other faculties for the commendable job they are doing in educating young minds. One thing that can never be discarded is the importance of education. Education is not only about learning subjects, it is about learning to be a human being. Today, we all live in a globalized world. The superpowers of today will give way for other countries to dominate, and as the power of nations grow, so too would the opportunities for man. Countries like China and India will be the superpowers of tomorrow and when that happens, students will travel to these countries to pursue higher studies and seek suitable job opportunities there. What I mean to say is that whether it is the U.S, China, Russia, the U.K or India, there will be movement of people from one country to another, and what we all need to do is to ensure that we live as one. Culturally and physically we may be different, but we are all one and the same. Let’s live without boundaries, and let’s live in peace.
Thank you all once again for giving me this opportunity to present my commencement speech before such a distinguished gathering. I truly appreciate your patience to hear me through. Thank you.
Cover letter for Commencement Speech
In writing this commencement speech, one thing I learnt differently from the rhetorical practices in assignment one is that here, it was more of a personal experience, and the writing style was frank and straight-forward. At no point of time did I try to deviate from the topic of racism. In writing the commemoration, I used information from other peer-reviewed articles to word it appropriately, and since my focus was on the subject of racism, I did a little research to understand why there was a misconception that immigrants snatched jobs from the natives. I did address the issue clearly during my speech and I also made it a point to write why I felt that the popular notion of that minority that indulged in racism was partly wrong. I didn’t want to disagree with the view, as there was a point of contention there. In writing on the incident that involved me, I was able to express my personal fear when confronted by those boys. I used a lot of adjectives to impress upon the audience how much gratitude I have for my professors and faculties for their support. I believe my writing skills allowed me to make a strong appeal against racism, and this was appreciated by them because of my use of a situation that was unbiased and sincere. To end the speech, I did my best to sincerely appreciate the audience, because that was how some of the other speeches I read ended.
In researching on the university, its students, their profiles, and so on, the most memorable experience I had was coming to know the students from various backgrounds. In understanding their backgrounds, I was able to understand the different cultural backgrounds of the students in the university and how they were able to make that critical adjustment to studying and playing together as one. Drafting this paper was much easier than the first assignment as this was more of an interpretation of my personal experience which I write without a pause. I did however use a few rhetorical tools to create excitement. In the commencement speech, my narration was continuous and I didn’t have to break to think what I had to write next. However, I still continue to have problems with minor grammatical errors, which with time and practice will become non-existent. Grammar remains a big challenge and I can only get better with time. The use of commas, semi-colons, colons, exclamation marks appropriately still confuses me, but I can say that I have made rapid progress. I used expressions such as familial bonding, boisterously, and commendable job to create an impact with the audience, and it gave my speech a far more expressive feeling. I really enjoyed writing about my tryst with the unruly guys, as I could relate from memory and write it clearly. I did include a few dialogues to make the speech lively, and I confess, I did really well in writing this speech because of the peer reviews.