Student Commencement Address, Winter 2010 - Brenton Fitzpatrick

Student Commencement Speech
Delivered by Brenton Fitzpatrick
May 1, 2010
Superior Dome, Northern Michigan University

Watch Brenton's Commencement Speech here.

I would like to begin by thanking the Selection Committee for giving me the opportunity to speak before all my fellow graduates, our family members, and all of the other individuals that are here to support us and celebrate our achievements.

Today has finally arrived; our day. The day, for which we have spent countless hours studying, typing, planning. It seemed so far in the future on that first day of our freshman year. Looking into our Undergraduate Bulletins (which were still paper copies back then), the number of requirements to graduate seemed endless. It seemed that there were enough credits and classes to last twenty years, especially if you switched majors. Yet, here we are today, ready to go out and show the world what Wildcats can do.

 I encourage each of you to take some time today, amongst all the hugs and photo opportunities, to reflect on what you've achieved while attending NMU. Some may have been part of superb musical performances. Others may have performed beyond expectation on a sports team. While some of you are credited with winning Homecoming competitions, others may have won competitions for business ideas. For some, their greatest achievement will be their positions as leaders of student organizations; while other's greatest achievement may simply be passing that one really difficult class.

As Wildcats, we have been given countless opportunities; opportunities we may never have again. Our student activity fee allowed us to listen to the messages of comedians, politicians, motivational speakers, celebrities, and more. To fill liberal studies requirements, many of us took classes in subjects we knew nothing about, such as music, theatre, art, or foreign language. You may have learned to dance the tango, or how to put out forest fires. Many of us had the opportunity to gain hands on experience in our areas of study. Students worked on research projects with faculty members, logged observation hours in local school districts, trained in medical facilities, or left the country as part of a study abroad program.

While we achieved great things because of the opportunities offered here at NMU, it was not without risk. Some of us had to overcome the fear of public speaking, baring it all in front of an audience. Some encountered risk of injury, such as in sporting events, working with dangerous materials, or under dangerous conditions during internships. We often made decisions that brought risks with them, such as enrolling in difficult classes, whether or not to party on weekends, or meeting new people. We risked losing our childhood by moving away from home, and risked our futures by which majors we chose. No matter how great the risk, we made the most of our time at NMU.

Many people regard their college years as the best years of their lives. It is a time of transition between adolescence and adulthood. Our achievements at NMU are only the first steps towards our new destinations: graduate school, careers, politics, hometowns. As graduates, I know our experiences have better prepared us for the future. We now have the strength and the skills to take on whatever challenges life sends our way.

I wish all my fellow graduates the best of luck in all your endeavors, and I hope you all will continue to take risks in order to accomplish great things. Thank you