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Julia Piri's Charge to the Class of 2017

Welcome, Faculty, Staff, Parents, Family, Friends and the Graduating Class of 2017,

Growing up, my parents taught me a lot. If you ask my parents they would probably say that whatever they told me goes in one ear and straight out of the other. But what I will say today is a few things that my parents taught me other than stop teasing your brother, clean your room, and walk the dogs! A few things my parents taught me are first to, speak up for yourself, because nobody knows what you're thinking, Second, you have to work hard to get what you want, and third, look out for your family. Before I explain a little further, these three stuck out to me the most among many because I can still hear my mom and dad’s voices in my head with any decision I make. And I would not be standing here today if it weren’t for it. So before I continue let us all say thank you, because I'm sure you all had someone's voice in your head go off every time you needed to make decisions for yourself.

Now, back to my number one, speak up for yourself. There is going to be a lot that goes on in this ever-changing world. If you have a problem, I encourage you to speak up and stand up for what you believe is right. Two, work hard to get what you want. Just because we now all have a degree, does not mean the hustle is over. Keep working hard and progressing forward in whatever path is next for you. Something that I learned at my internship last summer stuck with me, and I want to share it with all of you. Always remember that the peak is never evident until the descent. And third protect your family. Here at the University of Hartford you all became my family. My residents when I was an RA, my peers in the many organizations I was involved in, my roommates. Even though we won't be sharing a campus anymore does not mean I won't stop staying connected with all of you and your successes to come. We still need to support each other’s dreams now that we are making a difference in the world beyond the landscape of this campus.   

I remember the first time I heard a member of our campus community make this promise once and then I heard him make it again, and again, and again. Given this opportunity to speak today, I will share with you what this person promised, and now I am going to make this promise as well. I hope it has the same effect on you as it did on me. I will not stand in front of another group of people and not say this. There is too much violence and hate going on in this world right now. We all need to take care of one another and make sure that every person we interact with feels like they matter to us. This is the way we change the world one person at a time! I say this because our faculty and staff here at the University of Harford have not only taught us how to succeed in our studies and future careers but they taught us life lessons and how to be good people. I would like to say thank you to the faculty and staff here at the University and let you all know that we the students hang on to everything you say with full confidence and hope that you know you did not go unheard.

Now, to my fellow colleagues. I read in a novel once that taught me a lesson about progress. The quote was “We’ll try and we’ll fail again because that’s what progress looks like. Progress looks like a bunch of failures. And you’re going to have feelings about that because it’s sad, [frustrating] but you cannot fall apart. And then one day, we will succeed and we will walk on the moon”. But now that I'm saying this out loud, I'm pretty sure that it was Meredith Grey from Grey’s Anatomy but anyways! The point is that... In the past four years we did not get here because it was easy, we worked long and hard to reach the progress we have made so far. As we walk out of here today we are still going to be reaching for progress. We need to keep educating ourselves and working hard and smart to achieve our goals. Here at the University we build a strong foundation to prepare us for our futures. We have been working these past four years as today's learners and tomorrow's leaders and as we walk out of here today we- will be the leaders and followers who never stop learning. Don't just dream your wildest dream, do it. Be a doer. Shonda Rhimes did not create ShondaLand by dreaming; Oprah Winfrey didn't create a network over night. And if you don’t want to take it from me, take it from J.K. Rowling, the lady that gave us a childhood of potions, wizards and dreams. “We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already; we have the power to imagine better.”  … And I would add start the change

And if you don't remember a single word I said I'm sure you'll get several Hallmark cards that will say it a lot simpler than I did, thank you all, and congratulations class of 2017!