I have been doing a lot of thinking these past few weeks about the disrupted patterns of spring that we’ve come to depend on to tell us that the academic calendar is winding down and summer is coming ever closer to us. I have missed the prom pictures that normally inundate my Facebook feed, the gorgeous young women dressed to the nines for the very first time in their lives and their somewhat awkward but awe-struck dates. But, in lieu of those pictures, it’s been fun to see the parents who are finding creative ways to help their kids have some normalcy: prom dresses and tuxedos at DQ, all at an appropriately safe distance apart, of course.
I don’t have a single grad party invitation, another hallmark of this time of year. And I keep thinking about this loss for both graduates and their parents. I only have one child, and if he were a senior, in high school or college, not only would he not get to celebrate the simple act of walking across a stage and celebrating with invested friends and family, but neither would I, or his dad or step dad or grandparents and more. In the big picture, this is not a catastrophic loss, but it’s a loss nonetheless.
So this week I want to provide you with two graduation speeches that come directly from the arts. Emily Beck, director of The Fargo Theatre, was the MSUM commencement speaker in 2015. I distinctly remember my husband, a professor at MSUM, coming home from commencement that day to excitedly tell me that Emily had knocked her talk out of the park. I was a little jealous, truth be told, that Emily was invited to give a commencement address, since I have always wanted to do that.
But it wasn’t until today that I finally got to see her epic speech. And epic is not too big a word for it. Emily took her passion for movies and pop culture and lent her enthusiasm to the moment in a way that clearly resonated with her audience.
A few takeaways from me before you watch it for yourself, and do it with your kids, seniors or not. You will all find something to be inspired by, believe me!
I’ll spare you a list of my own take aways as that feels really narcissistic!
I’m so sorry that this year’s seniors and their proud parents won’t have their own memories of graduation, but I hope these two talks give you a little sense of normalcy in this very unnormal time. And I know that you will all go out and do amazing things; you will all pursue passion in various ways and make your own mark on the planet. Go out into the big wide world and get lit up.
To quote the great wordsmith, Emily Beck, “Go. Change the world.”