Thank you President Córdova.
Good morning distinguished guests, faculty, administrators, family and friends, and the class of 2012. It’s a great honor to speak to you today on behalf of my fellow graduates.
The first time I was called to these seats was for Boiler Gold Rush, the orientation program most of us participated in four years ago. One of my first college memories is something that President Córdova told us. She said, “WHATEVER you do during this next week and your time here at Purdue, do NOT change yourself. Do not change your values, ethics, or interests just to fit in with others.” These words reigned true with me throughout my time at Purdue, and I believe they are just as important to remember today as we enter the next phase of our lives. Thank you President Córdova and faculty, for your guidance, wisdom, and commitment to our collective future. I also learned a great deal from the friends I made at Purdue, who helped me grow as a person while accepting me for who I am and what I believe in. Thank you friends and fellow graduates.
I know I cannot possibly speak for every student here today, but I once heard that "whatever seems most personal is also most universal.” Therefore, I hope you will be able to relate to my story as I stand here on your behalf today.
When I was a senior in high school, I learned the following alarming statistic in Environmental Science class. In the US, buildings account for 65% of electricity consumption. 65%! Upon hearing this, I knew I wanted to make an impact on the future of sustainable construction.
Fortunately, I discovered Purdue’s Construction Management major and realized that it was the ideal starting point for pursuing my path.
On the first day of classes, I was more than intimidated; my courses consisted of a 97% male population. Based on conversations I heard in between classes, how was I going to make it through four years of listening to incessant rants about how far Peyton Manning threw a football? During this time I questioned why I chose such a testosterone-driven field.
Luckily, Women in Technology club served as the acupuncture to my friendship-anxieties. Meeting students with similar interests put me at ease knowing that although I may have been in the minority in my classes, I had a strong voice and support from others. During the next several years, I invested my personal time into making sure that other women had a chance to participate in the group’s great work, while hoping to attract others to the career path.
Society compels us to believe that there may be something that we must change about ourselves when we are labeled as the "minority.” In fact, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, just as President Córdova advised our class on our first day on campus. I recognized that I did not have to conform to the majority (that is, "be more like the guys"), because I knew I was perfectly capable of contributing as a woman and as a student utilizing my own individual skills in ways that would help me and others succeed in the program.
Much like when we were freshmen embarking on a new experience, I believe it’s safe to say we’re all in the same boat today: nervous about the future. After I leave campus today, I’ll ask myself, “Where am I going to sing Journey at the top of my lungs, now that the piano bar isn’t a taxi ride away? When it’s 80 degrees out, how am I going to resist the urge to run through a public fountain? And WHEN will I ever feel the sadness when I miss the bus by a quarter of a second and the bus driver doesn’t acknowledge my flailing arms of desperation?”
Although we are all going to miss these moments, Purdue has provided the concrete foundation for not only my construction career, but the foundation to help overcome many of life's challenges beyond our course content. We have been blessed with a solid base, forged from life’s strongest resources: experience, guidance, knowledge, struggle, success, and love. Our parents’ continuous support, in addition to our professors’ enthusiastic efforts, have prepared us to enter the workforce and change our society for the better. World: get ready for Purdue’s Class of 2012!
Congratulations to all and forever HAIL PURDUE!