Members of the Class of 2012 gathered on November 3, 2012 for their Graduation Ceremony. Here we share the three valedictory addresses.
It’s strange to leave the place that you inhabited for the most formative years of your life, stranger to come back, and strangest still to realise that this place that was once home will never be so again. Yet we must say good bye, and this is the final farewell.
And good riddance, I say! To be so tied up with the emotions of a place can scarcely be called a good thing. Whether or not I enjoyed my time here, and for the record, I loved it, is besides the point. We now have a chance to reform ourselves, and I believe we must take it. Can one be free when the mind is so obsessed and controlled by another group of people, whether or not that group is anything but a passive tyrant? Finally separating from each other, we have a chance to start anew.
And so I want you to go out and think about your lives honestly. Coming from UTS, I think that we have inherited a common affliction of caring far too much about marks and not enough about learning. This school has taught us, probably better than any other could, the skills that we need to survive in university. But at the same time we have become obsessed with something secondary to the real purpose of education.
High school, university, and whatever you end up doing in life is not about getting marks or some similarly empty indicator. It’s about acquiring knowledge, or actually doing things. And when we forget that, everything becomes more difficult. I’ve seen people spend hours memorizing equations and tricks in order to pass tests instead of trying to honestly understand the material. And it would be comical if it wasn’t so sad how unprepared that leaves one for the real world. The real world doesn’t care about marks: you weren’t admitted to university because you got good grades, you were admitted because the university thought your good marks reflected your knowledge and intelligence.
More fundamentally, I think we pay too much attention to the immediate and incidental concerns of our lives. We seem to judge the quality of our lives by whether or not we have a test this week, which strikes me, when I think on it, as bizarre in the extreme.
The problem is a lack of perspective. Things just happen sometimes, yet each misfortune is considered an injustice directed against your person. Each day, take all of the things that have angered, saddened, or pained you. Every one of those things could have two sources. Either it is an act of nature, in which case it is beyond your control, or it is an act of another person, in which case it is the act of a person who is similarly trying to deal with the misfortunes of nature.
So the key point is to examine beyond the surface, in both academics and in your life. Look to reality, not appearances. And when things seem really bad, roll with it, because all the things that happen aren’t going to stop happening because you’re unhappy. They’ll probably only happen more. So go out, and when life gives you lemons, make grape juice, and make them wonder how you did it.
Fellow students, parents and faculty,
They say UTS never ends. Two months into university and I can see how that’s true. As I savour my instant noodles in front of my computer, Sal would suddenly come over and freeload off my large stash of Asian food. Other times, I just can’t resist those urges to open Firstclass, only to realize how I no longer have any ads to forward.
But the fact that we’ve left this place since June suggests that some things must be different. I’m guessing our Circadian rhythms are messed up and we’ve probably spent more time helping others with their homework than we have with ours. Chances are we met new people from diverse backgrounds and learned some sort of math or science this first semester. All this happened in the vastness of the world out there, where there is an endless reservoir of knowledge to be absorbed and interests to explore. And as we continue to take our steps in a new environment, we may slowly acknowledge how UTS gave us our steady footing.
For the past six years, the UTS community has been supporting us in every way. It gave us the motivation to work harder, especially when we considered our math homework to be generous treats from Mr. Wilson. The community provided us with opportunities to explore our interests with all those other curious minds back in F1. You play ping pong? I play ping pong too. Cool, let’s be friends. Then, as we matured, we began singing our own version of Twelve Days of Christmas. I’ll always appreciate UTS teachers’ understanding that we have countless extracurricular commitments and I’ll always remember how heartfelt we were while signing the last of six Twigs. No matter where we go or what paths we head down, it’s these memories that will withstand the weather of time. It still makes me smile whenever I think about all those faces we put up in the middle of the night and how after getting practically no sleep, we got up and pretended everything was perfectly normal in time for final assembly. So yeah, with these memories, UTS never really ends.
Class of 2012, I’m glad we finished this journey together. Now, we definitely have a story to tell that will make other university students so jealous and one that will convince our parents their investment has been every bit worthwhile. UTS built our foundation and gave us inspiration to explore – now it’s up to us to decide what to do with that. There is much to be discovered in this world – whether they are interests, cultures, or the application of ideas. Although the world is a big place, UTS showed us that it’s as big as we make it to be. I can certainly attest to the fact that our entire experience here has been worth much more than the diplomas we received today, and university should really be approached no differently. So with that, thanks for six incredible years and good luck. Know that you have the support of each and every one of us here.
Hello everyone, it’s nice to see you all again. I know some of you were able to meet up for Canadian Thanksgiving but I think it’s been about 5 months since we’ve all been together as a class. I’m thinking back to grade trip, final assembly, and grad prank, and to be quite honest, they seem like they happened so far in the past. The switch to university life has been a drastic one for me, as I am sure it has been for everyone, and I’ve still yet to fully adjust. So much is different about life at university. You’re in a new environment, away from your family, away from many of your old friends, in a place where the people, activities, and physical settings are different. It’s a life that is often very distant from the one we knew in high school. And the further you immerse yourself in it, the more difficult it becomes to keep connected with your old one.
It makes sense then that it will require more effort to keep in touch with people you don’t see in the halls every week, or keep yourself involved with an institution that you’re not actively a part of everyday. It becomes easy to forget something that has had such an importance in shaping you, when you are separated from it for so long. Time dulls the memory, and what mattered the most to us before will naturally lose its influence if we aren’t reminded of it every now and then. It’s a good thing then that our school decides to be abnormal by holding its graduation ceremony five months after every other school because it gives us an excuse to get back together and remind ourselves of the lives we left at the outset of our summers.
There are so many amazing people at university that I’m glad to have become friends with but, at the same time, I can’t help thinking that it’s just not the same as UTS. That’s not to say it’s any worse but that it’s just not the same. And the reason it’s not the same is because they haven’t experienced the same things that we have. They don’t have a single clue about what Wanakita, Ahmek, and Kilcoo are like. They’ve never sat in the sand during House Island Day and cheered on as their friends played volleyball. They’ve never painted their faces at House Track Meet and taken an unnecessary number of pictures. They’ve never known the joy of sitting through House Lip Sync and being able to watch Michael and Andres dance to LMFAO. They weren’t at our school dances, our semis, or our formal. They weren’t there for the hours and hours we spent hanging out in the hallway, rec room, or S6 commons. They weren’t there after Show when we were all screaming “2012”, or at grade trip when we were all having dangerous amounts of fun. For god’s sake, they don’t even know what F1 means. They don’t, and never will, know what your six years at UTS have been like, but the people here today do.
A person is nothing but a collection of their experiences. While your friends in university will also someday become very important people in your life, your friends here today are the people you’ve shared those six years of high school with. Regardless of what happens or where you go in the future, this group of people is one you will always have a special connection with. And that’s what we’re here to celebrate today: the special connection we’ve forged as a result of growing up together. It’s been quite a journey but today we formally and finally graduate as the Class of 2012. In a few days we’ll all be heading off again in different directions but I hope it will be with a renewed and lasting memory of our time at UTS. Congratulations Class of 2012. Thank you for making wonderful those six years of my life and may we always keep in touch.