Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Putting Skills to Use for Positive Change: Draper Student Megan Schmidt's Graduation Speech, Kingston University

We recently congratulated Draper student Megan Schmidt for being awarded the prize for the Best Overall Academic Achievement at London's Kingston University. Prior to enrolling at Draper, Megan completed a master's degree in Human Rights and Genocide Studies at Kingston, and was recently recognized for her excellence in that program.A few weeks ago, Megan gave the 'vote of thanks' speech at the program's graduation ceremony in London. You can read her speech below. Congrats again, Megan!

Vote of Thanks Speech, Delivered by Megan Schmidt:
Kingston University Graduation, January 2011

Good morning.

It is an honor and a pleasure to deliver the vote of thanks on behalf of everyone here today. Let me first start by thanking the Vice-Chancellor, Dr. David Mackintosh, and the teachers, administrative and technical staff from the School of Social Sciences, the School of Economics, and the School of Performance and Screen Studies. I would like to extend an especially warm thanks to our guest speaker and honorary graduate, Matthew Bourne, for his address today and for his outstanding contribution to dance in culture. I would also like to personally offer my gratitude to the professors and staff that played crucial roles in my life while enrolled in the Joint European Master’s Program in Human Rights & Genocide Studies. Professor Philip Spencer, Dr. Paul Dixon, Dr. Carmen Thiele, Professor Gerard Rowe, and Penny Tribe: I thank you for your help, support, and guidance. It is also important that we acknowledge and thank the families and close friends of all of us graduating today. You supported us during our studies, even when we were stressed and overwhelmed. Thank you for being there unconditionally.

Kingston University provided us with an education and with opportunities that will stay with us forever. Before studying here I had never left the east coast of the United States and was pursuing a career path that I was not overly excited about. But then I learned of Kingston University, and the program specializing in Human Rights & Genocide Studies and my life was changed forever. Because of Kingston University I was able to move to and see places I had only ever dreamed of. I visited sites, met people, and took courses that I never thought imaginable. Most importantly, I learned about myself, my strengths and ability, and grew as a person. The experience of studying at Kingston University changed me, and has changed all of us, profoundly.

We are here today to celebrate great achievement as we graduate. This is a time to be proud of our accomplishments and excited about what the future holds. But it is also an understandably scary and uncertain period for many of us as we are now faced with leaving this institution and entering a world that is not entirely welcoming. The economic crisis has left its toll globally, and every day news reports tell of ongoing and new crises and wars plaguing mankind. This is the world we are expected to enter. This task might seem daunting, but I prefer to look at this as a great opportunity to use the knowledge and experience gained from Kingston University and apply it to not only influencing our academic fields, whether they be psychology, film, or human rights, but to affect the world itself. We have been given the tools and abilities necessary to bring change, whether small or great. If we do not use the skills we have acquired from our time at Kingston University in a positive and influential way, then what we invested in and worked towards will be meaningless. Albert Pine once said, “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains immortal.” Let us remember these words as we go forward into whatever lies ahead, and use the knowledge and abilities we gained while at Kingston University to do work that impacts the world and will remain “immortal.”

Thank you.

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