"Costumes tear, hair pins fall off, and light cues mess up in dress rehearsals, but nothing beats opening night. This is it. Take charge and create your adventures, panthers. We did it!"
Thank you Provost Grogg.
Good morning, President Riordan, trustees, faculty, administration, distinguished guests, family and friends, and, of course, my peers of Adelphi University’s Class of 2018.
I am Isuri Wijesundara, a proud holder of a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre and a graduate of the Levermore Global Scholars program, as of today and more importantly an international student, from Sri Lanka.
First and foremost I want to dedicate these next few minutes to every international student and to all the students who are children of immigrants in the audience today. We are dreamers who are backed by families that have sacrificed so much in order to see us prosper and shine. We are grateful for the opportunities our families were able to create for us and we should be proud of ourselves for all the work we’ve done so far and the work we will continue to do.
I believe I speak for all of us when I say, I feel as though we started our freshman year yesterday. Some of us spent all four years together and some of us joined the Adelphi family as transfers. Some of us came back for a second degree, and some of us defy the stereotypical undergrad box. Some of us spent all day in class and some of us worked amidst our busy class schedules but we all came together at events like Late Night Breakfast. Especially events that involved free food. We made life long friendships in the different clubs and societies we were all a part of. We have all created significant impactful changes within our communities because of what we all truly believe in. Some of us will go on to be teachers and change young lives, some of us will put rhythm in people’s lives, some of us will go on to be successful athletes playing in world famous stadiums, some of us will perform on the greatest of stages and some of us will save lives.
We’ve been through a few years of long endless nights, tired mornings, procrastinated papers, and good times at Club Swirbs, but also some amazing years of crazy friendships and memorable times. Take a look around you. You are all surrounded by peers who you’ve sat in class with, or will work with one day. You are all surrounded by peers of different genders, ethnicities, sexualities, and social classes. You are all surrounded by smart, intelligent and powerful peers.
I have to say that I’m sincerely thankful for the faculty and my mentors who showed me the importance of using my craft in expressing stories of silenced voices. I want to thank all the participants of Now You See Me/Now You Hear Me and Take Back The Night for helping us start conversations about campus sexual assaults and for being one of the projects that truly changed my life.
I’m able to stand here and speak to you about what an incredible 4 years I’ve had and most of you as well, because of a list of collective people so here are some shout outs. Everyone in the theatre department, my theatre class: Royals for 4 years of tears, sweat, back massages, art and pure joy. Levermore Global Scholars, for pushing my fellow LGSers and I, to see true purpose and potential in social change. The Admissions family, LAMDA and London and all the other study abroad opportunities. The Jaggar Community Fellows Program for meaningfully important internships and friendships. The list is endless and I know I’m missing out on so many but I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say we’re so thankful for everyone who’s touched our lives in some way, small or big.
I left the best for the last because I didn’t want you to sit through 3 minutes of me trying to pull myself together. None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for the two most important people in my life. Ammi and Thaththi, all I can say is I am forever in your debt because you never discouraged my artistic interests and you stuck with me through to this day. You’ve taught me that being someone good and kind is more important than being someone rich. You’ve eagerly awaited photos from all of my solo globetrot adventures, and I’m sorry for all the scary photos I’ve sent you of me sitting on tall cliffs. I’ve gone weeks without hearing your voices and months without seeing your faces and I honestly have no idea how you dealt with sending me, your only child 8745 miles (14,074 km) away. You missed my performances and though I know how insanely proud you were of me on those days, I also know how much it hurt you to not be in the audience, which is why this day is all the more special. It amazes me that I, among others am able to say that I live in New York, while truly living my dream and pursuing a career I had once hoped of and that’s only because of all the sacrifices you and all of our families have made, for us. All the thank yous in the world will never be enough.
The next few years will be an adjustment for all of us, and these adjustments may be hard, but we’ve all spend the past few years building and adding to our tool boxes. I am stoked and excited for the next chapter of our lives and I wish you all the very best with all of your future endeavors. What is a speech without a quote to end it, right?
Nora Ephron said “Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead.” Costumes tear, hair pins fall off, and light cues mess up in dress rehearsals, but nothing beats opening night. This is it. Take charge and create your adventures, panthers. We did it!
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