Fall 2013 Newsletter
Carly Roberts' Welcoming Convocation Speech
Carly is the Associated Students President for the 2013-2014 Academic Year
Good evening everyone.
Before I get started, I want to tell you a little bit about myself. In the age of social media, we are accustomed to only seeing the highlight reels of each other’s lives. But sometimes it’s the less than glamorous moments that say the most. My name is Carly, I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and grew up in Olympia, Washington. I come from a single-parent household and I am the first person in my family to attend college. My favorite color is purple, and my least favorite food is green bell peppers. I would like to think I’m pretty good at writing speeches, but I’m really bad at playing dodge ball.
My transition into college life was not as smooth as you might assume. My freshman year was filled with struggles many of you will also encounter, as well as the growing pains associated with self-discovery and personal development. By the end of spring quarter of my first year, I found myself questioning whether I was fit for university life and whether I should even return for my sophomore year. I was experiencing what is called “a low point.” But the good thing about low points, and the reason I’m telling you about mine, is that they leave so much room for upward expansion.
I did end up coming back for my second year. And my third. And now my fourth. With encouragement of professors, advisors, and friends, I have been able to make it through the hard times and reach for my full potential.
I share my story, because each of you will have your own story. The path you take may end up surprising even you, and I want you to know that that is more than ok. As you enter your first year, it is important to keep your goals in sight, while also remaining open to change and new inspirations.
You must determine what your measure of success will be. It may be different than someone else’s but it will be yours. As you begin your time here at Western, intentionally surround yourself with friends, advisors, and professors who will help hold you to this measure and encourage you towards success.
Here is some good news: Western is a place full of opportunities for you to create success for yourself. We are at the top of the list of best master's-granting universities in the west; our athletics, both varsity and club sports, are wildly successful. Our student clubs are examples to others across the nation. Our Associated Students is one of the largest in the nation, and empowers students to be in positions that are filled by professional staff at other schools.
There has been a lot of hype in the media recently about our generation. There seem to be two prevailing views throughout these discussions. Some say that we are lazy and entitled, others claim we are simply the victims of failing economic and social structures. I offer a third option. I believe that our generation stands at the brink of a new world and is equipped with the motivation to see that this new world is a better, kinder world. As technology continues to advance at an exponential rate, we will be the most globally connected generation yet, with more knowledge at our fingertips than any generation before us could have possibly imagined. The question then is not whether we are vapid or victims. Instead it is this: How do we make the most of this opportunity, and ensure that the steps we take into this uncharted future move us in a collectively positive direction?
We do that with a liberal arts education from Western Washington University.
The unique holistic education we receive at Western sets a broad foundation that will add depth to the specialized knowledge that we build upon it. If applied properly, this base gives us a competitive advantage over others in the job market, but also builds our capacity as human beings to relate to others and see issues from many complex angles.
Western sends more graduates into the Peace Corps than any other institution our size in the nation. Western students have led the charge to ensure that our campus remains at the forefront of green energy and environmental protection. Western students log hundreds of thousands of hours of community service every year. Western students raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities and community organizations every year.
The tagline “active minds changing lives” is more than a set of words that look nice on pamphlets and web pages. When we activate our minds, we are able to make real change. When you apply your mind to making a positive difference in the world around you, you will, without a doubt, change lives for the better. Our time at Western will prepare us to be the leaders our fields, and world need.
I’m going to end my remarks with a charge for all of you. Over the next quarter, I challenge you to figure out what a liberal arts education means to you. I challenge you to not settle for sliding by in your GURs, but to critically retain the information you learn, and apply it in your other areas of study.
We can be the change we wish to see in the world. But only if we work through our low points, activate our minds, and take full advantage of the opportunities available to us.
We are not victims, and we are not vain children. We are a generation of change makers. And Western is the place where change makers come to be educated. Welcome to Western.