Text of Ellyn Getz's student address

To President Lawrence, Provost Goldstein, members of the board of trustees, distinguished faculty and staff, Brandeis alumni, honored guests, proud family, and friends: Thank you.  

And to my fellow graduates of the Brandeis Class of 2013 – Congratulations!!!

I wanted to begin by talking briefly about a YouTube video that was created last year by a team of talented Brandeis students. It’s called “What did you do today?” and it takes the viewer on a memorable journey as a student around our school’s campus.

This team captured moments that are authentic. There was no staging involved. And no matter how many times I watch it – believe me - I’m sure I’ve watched almost half of those 9,000 views – it makes me smile.

Because I have so much pride in our community.

This video parallels our arrival and initiation to campus. Here are a few moments that started our Brandeis experience.

•    Our Orientation Leaders, Community Advisors, and Roosevelt Fellows who helped us move into our rooms and offered guidance when it was needed.

•    Jamele Adams’ and Scott Edmiston’s moving speeches about Brandeis’ creative community

•    And SSIS’ very informative presentation

It was during the hullabaloo of Orientation that we witnessed the energy and spirit of Brandeis role models – believers of our school’s values and advocates of our tight-knit, accepting, and bright community.

We started with a clean slate when we arrived at Brandeis. But regardless of our backgrounds, Brandeis’ current and former community shaped us into the people that we are today. We’ve lived the legacy of our Brandeis ancestors and mentors during these past four years, and we’ve created our own Brandeis legacy.

Class of 2013 – here are just a few of our accomplishments!

•    We fostered 13 different a cappella groups (are there any aca-seniors in the audience?!) and collaborated on over 100 theatrical productions.

•    We created new clubs that solved a need – whether it was to promote communication about controversial issues or to help each other cope with difficult life experiences

•    We led our intramural and varsity sports teams to exciting victories

•    We wrote papers or edited our school newspapers in the SCC until the early hours of the morning and looked forward to that fresh Einstein bagel that was so well-deserved

•    We sat through 20-act Chums coffeehouses

•    Attended many social awareness events

•    Hung out at Ollie’s for Trivia Night and ate the greasiest, most deliciously cheesy waffle fries

•    We felt our animalistic tendencies take over when we lightly shoved our friends aside to catch a free Midnight Buffet t-shirt.

•    We mentored our peers as TAs, classmates, and BUGS tutors

•    Coordinated and participated in exciting events during ‘Deis Impact, Bronstein Week, Culture X, SpringFest, and Festival of the Arts

•    Celebrated different religious holidays together

•    Reveled in the restoration of our beautiful Rose Art Museum

•    We even helped to inaugurate a brand new university president! How many students can say they did that?

Coming to Brandeis is one part of our life journeys that is not to be taken for granted. We have come in contact with teachers who are role models and inspirations; professors who have devoted their lives to teach us how to learn – how to explore and challenge. We’ve studied with peers who are genuinely nice and supportive of our own accomplishments. We are fortunate to have received a liberal arts education, infused with themes of social justice and compassion for others.

Our school has taught us that we aren’t stuck with the world we’ve been handed.  We have been granted the tools and foundation to change it: to be bold, persistent, ambitious, and different. Because we all have within our power to make a positive contribution to this world. Our contributions to Brandeis alone are a testament to that.

My grandfather, my Zayda, who would have loved to be here today, once inspired me with these words: We each have our own obstacles and aspirations in life, but our successes are always pluralized. What he meant was that no matter how we reach that summit (and for this moment, our graduation), we must always recognize the support of others to get us there. So while we’re reveling in pride for our class’ accomplishments, let’s just take a moment to thank our parents, coaches, and mentors and all those who have set us up with a stable foundation! To our friends and acquaintances who have made a difference in our lives – whether it was through a passing smile of reassurance on the Rabb steps before an exam or through showing school spirit throughout the men’s 2012 historic soccer run.  

Our caring, accepting community has provided us with the love and support to grow and to make an impact that will be remembered. We have started and continued traditions here. We have learned to keep an open mind.  We have seen the power of our support network when we have experienced transitions, happiness, disappointment, and obstacles. Brandeis is just a special place. But the community? This loving family? That is our home.

Today, we receive our Brandeis diplomas. As we proceed, let’s remember that these degrees are a symbol of our accomplishments here, and they’re a reminder to bring to the world the ideals for which our university stands. Be bold. Take risks. Continue to look for that Brandeisian glimpse of warmth, passion, and authenticity in others. Let’s remember the strength we have in our own abilities make a change and leave a legacy with the support of those who believe in us.

I continue to be inspired by each of you, and can’t wait to hear about the next chapter in your journeys. Congratulations, class of 2013!! We did it!!

Categories: Alumni, General, Student Life

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