Commencement speeches seek to inspire graduates
Remember the commencement speech at graduation? Did it motivate, inspire and encourage you: that is usually the intention. To mark this life transition, speeches urge graduating students to make a change in the world, according to Kirsteen Wolf.
Wolf graduated from Central Oregon Community College in the spring of 2012 and is currently studying general science at Oregon State University-Cascades.
“I think traditionally, [commencement speeches] have been moments of connection between the speaker and audience that inspire and give alternate perspectives to the graduating class,” Wolf said. “It is a threshold event that marks a time of inspiration.”
The speaker for the 2012 commencement ceremony was former COCC student Jason Graham, also known as MOsley WOtta.
Graham’s speech was meant to be expressed as a “quickly read poem.” The speech, titled “Who we? We are you,” was inspired by his brother, a 2012 COCC graduate, as well as by individuals in the community, according to Graham.
“Thinking about the folks in this town, that juggle and balance,” Graham said. “I felt very honored to speak with so many dedicated and motivated folks.”
The speech on commencement day was powerful and inspiring, Wolf said.
“It was an example of doing something differently, and the result was beautiful,” Wolf said. “I remember feeling that it was so beautifully spoken.”
Graham used his passion for life to inspire graduates, according to Wolf.
“He’s someone who’s enthusiastic about life,” Wolf said. “It was inspiring in the way he spoke in his own voice … from an honest place.”
The commencement speech added to the celebratory atmosphere, Wolf explained.
“It was part of a beautiful day, a wonderful celebration,” Wolf said. “He fit perfectly into the whole day.”
Wolf’s advice to 2013 COCC graduates is to never stop learning.
“We tend to, when we graduate say, ‘that was that,’ ” Wolf said. “Keep serious, keep working hard, keep learning all throughout your life.”
The 2013 commencement speaker will be Scott Cooper, a community leader from Crook County, according to Ron Paradis, director of Community Relations at COCC.
Past Commencement speakers
2012 – Jason Graham, aka MOsley WOtta
2011 – Congressman Greg Walden
2010 – Kathy Walsh, retiring vice president of instruction
2009 – Trish Smith, long-time resident and COCC supporter
2008 – Lillian Pitt, Native American artist
-Information from Ron Paradis