GREETINGS con-specifics!! I want to start with hearty congratulations to the class of 2013! Congratulations also to the professors and the staff who have worked so tirelessly with us, and to the parents, grandparents and families who have emptied their bank accounts so diligently for us!
It took… a village to write this speech.
First my mother, halfway across the world, reminded me to begin by thanking God! (So, here’s to you mom, and to God). Then, there were friends who sent contributions of jokes I could open with…. An example:
“How many counselors does it take to change a light bulb?
One. But the light bulb has got to *want* to change!”
There was the friend who advised *NOT* to go the humorous route (“Maddy, comedic timing is so difficult. Keep it serious, you can’t go wrong with serious!”). Another who reminded me that no one would remember the content of my speech anyway, so why worry so much?! And then the one who got me 4 minutes at his Toastmasters meeting to help me practice. And finally there were those – and you all know who you are- who brainstormed ideas with me and some who simply encouraged me, telling me how excited they were about it, reminding me how they were positive I would do a great job.
So yes, it really did take a small village to write this speech.
The careers we are embarking on are not very different. We, the members of the graduating class, may be the ones interacting with patients, as counselors, clinicians, as health care providers and in various other capacities. And we may well get all the credit for doing that work on a day-to-day basis. After all, we have just struggled through excruciating internships, painful practicums, hours of brainless memorization for the psychopharm exams, those uncountable awkward role-plays where we practiced exactly how to offer a crying patient a box of tissues. We agonized over how not to disclose our age to patients who asked, or how to dodge questions like “So… have YOU ever had a drug problem?” or “what do you think I should do?”. We had to endure those annoying one liners we heard when we told people what we’re studying “Oh (wide-eyed), a counselor? So you’re probably psychoanalyzing me right now! You’ve probably got me all figured out!” And finally, we sat in those intense circles in class!
Certainly as we take a walk down memory lane, we must not forget these life-long memories we’ve made along the way:
the papers we’ve read
groups we’ve led
tears we’ve shed
(and most importantly) the baby we’ve bred– a shout out to little baby Erin Leah Lee!!
All those accomplishments and achievements I listed were not done alone, nor were they done without the foundation and the support that many of you have provided, whether you are parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, spouses, children, friends or faculty. You each play a crucial role in making us who we are today, in helping us get through those difficult days, and through that association, play a crucial role in ensuring the quality of the work we do.
You have helped us vent, feel heard, given us advice or just some good old-fashioned sympathy. Most importantly, you have given us space to grow and change. Thank you all; your contribution to our success is immeasurable.
As I stand here this morning, I believe I am looking at some of the finest individuals this world has to offer. I don’t think there is any place in this world that, at this moment, has such a critical mass, such a concentration, of passionate, compassionate and dedicated individuals as those sitting before me. I am proud and humbled to have been part of this village, of being nurtured by it, and contributing to it.
Class of 2013, we made it!