"My message today is simple: practice self-reflection and take the time to find the paths in life that suits you best. "

Sarah Cinquemani, President of the Class of 2015

» Watch a video of the speech

Good morning President Scott, Trustees, faculty, administration, distinguished guests, family, friends, and of course, the Class of 2015. My message today is simple: practice self-reflection and take the time to find the paths in life that suits you best. Today, we are all here to celebrate the accomplishments of Adelphi students. Before we look to the future, this is an appropriate time to reminisce about the past four years at Adelphi from the firsts to the lasts we have shared together. It was our freshman year when Adelphi hosted its first Relay for Life and Take Back the Night events. We were the first class to experience the remodeled Post Dining Hall Facility and it was the year of Residence Hall B’s unveiling. Over the past four years, we have seen these events and experiences transform the university into a place that stands up against sexual assault and has raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars for cancer research. We are also a group that shares many lasts together, the most obvious being the last year President Scott will be president of Adelphi, though we look forward to his years as President Emeritus and professor. In addition, we are the last cohort to graduate in this version of Nassau Coliseum. I’m sure you can come up with your own firsts and lasts relating to your experience at Adelphi, but now I would like to turn to our future.

What your future destinations may be depend on where you are in life. Whether it’s grad school, a job, a new relationship or a major move to a new city, you are constantly using various compasses to guide you along. It’s almost like you have a utility belt of compasses, a Swiss Army knife of sorts. But what happens when your compasses intersect and you find yourself being pulled in different directions? While writing this, I was reminded of Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken. Listen to the first two lines: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both.”

Everyone is guided by different compasses- moral, religious, professional, and others- and I have come to understand there are multiple paths to follow. With all these choices, it’s inevitable; problems will turn up, but you have the power to rise to the challenge. Sometimes your moral compass and your career compass won’t align, but what may seem like an obstacle at first, is actually an opportunity to decide what you truly value. What makes one path more rewarding than the next is determined only after you’ve started walking. There’s no point in living a life of ‘what ifs’ when instead, you could be living a life of no regrets. Robert Frost continued: “Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.” When your compasses collide, it is a sign of opportunity- a chance to take a moment and really think about the direction you are heading in.

Here’s something to consider– even if you’re following your compass, it’s okay to get lost. Sometimes you make a wrong turn or end up going in circles. The only way you’ll notice though, is if you simply look up. Look up. When I walk around campus, I see countless people walking with their heads down, cellphones plastered to their hands. Why let the ground, not the sky, dictate where you are going? It can be pretty easy to keep your head down, following the path set by your compass, but if you never pick your head up, you’re bound to miss something. Keep your heart and your mind open to serendipity, take a chance and don’t hold back.

It’s incredible how quickly our time at Adelphi has gone by; although, some days it felt like I would never reach the light at the end of the tunnel. I was okay that life slowed down; it gave me the chance to look up. And when I did, I realized how much this institution has impacted me. Reminiscing is okay, in fact, it’s completely unavoidable on a day like today. So, think back to what you have lived through, the people you have met and the paths you have traveled. And then look up. Stop snapchatting or texting your friends and live in the moment because those things will be there in a few hours, but Adelphi’s path will be behind you. As you leave commencement today, look back on your experiences and I challenge you to embody these final words of Robert Frost. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Congratulations and best of luck to the Class of 2015. We did it!

See other 2015 Commencement Speeches.

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