Undergraduate Student Address by Mercedes Hall '17

Thank you, guys. Thank you. I was told I could represent so I did. Thank you for taking the shot. I do not know what series of shots were the ones to land each of you in this room, on this morning, but thank you for taking each and every one of them. Luckily, the end of one game marks the start of a new one and after a while every game seems to stream together in a way that makes it all continuous.

After years of conditioning, practicing, training, coaching, crying, a lot of crying, falling, healing and getting back in the game here we are. Class of 2017.

Good morning to family, friends, faculty, staff, honorary degree recipients, alumni, supporters and of course, graduates of 2017. Congratulations for making it to the championship game. I would like to think that it is no coincidence that Gosman doubles as both a sports and a convocation center allowing us to convene on this court.

Thank you for allowing me to deliver the last time-out speech of this game, especially with my Doc Rivers voice. That's passion. That's passion. Here, in this fourth quarter, our team is stronger than ever. Our offense, we took what was ours. Every night that you stayed home to study, every call made to your family back in your hometown, every submit button pressed on applications and every assignment handed in with or without that extension, you were playing offense.

From the weekly responses submitted from the free throw line to the twenty-page papers that felt a lot more like taking a shot from half court. The fact that we are sitting here this morning says that we averaged fairly well over the past few seasons. Many of us will attribute this to the coaching from our family and advisors, the skills taught to us by professors, the support and resources provided to us by various faculty and staff members and really the grace of God.

Defense was a little harder to play. Yeah we rebounded from loved ones we lost over the years, blocked every weapon that was formed against us, stole back every ball that was rightfully ours and made a smooth transition back to offense because we play best when we're calling the shots. We play hard every game but we play a little bit better and with a lot more heart when we play at home.

At home, we are undefeated. I finally realized how we were able to seamlessly accomplish this task. At home we do not have competition. We all play for the same team. There are times in practice where some of us wear blue jerseys and the rest of us wear gray ones, like professors and students during finals week, but that never eclipsed the fact that we all have a common goal.

Here, in this gym, we can think of this final event as May madness. At this moment we have a lineup better than the athletes in every all-star game put together. We are a super team that has has years to practice and grow together. It's almost unfair. I carry Chicago with me everywhere that I go and I would like to think that I am an honorary Bull at this point but I am immensely proud of my time spent playing for Brandeis University. Brandeis could not have done a better job recruiting and drafting to make this room look the way it does right now. When you receive your degree in hand you are officially a free agent. Free agents, guys. With stats unlike any other, Brandeis has made us the most hardworking, conscious, relentless, agile, innovative and skilled free agents on the market. Rest assured that, as my Granny always says, who I hope is smiling with my family over there somewhere, "All is well." There is one guaranteed way that we can ensure our continued success as we transition out of our free agency and into our next commitment in life. There's one play that incorporates the strategy to make us winners any and everywhere that we go. This play involves making every game played for our next team a home game. Wherever we go, we carry home with us and we make it our new home. When we leave the comfort of a place we have grown attached to for years, it may seem difficult to handle every defender attempting to block our shots but we must never let it make us fearful of playing the game as hard as we have been taught to play.

Starting from the South side of Chicago, I took the shot every time opportunity presented itself. That ambition has landed me here today. I would like to think that the rest of us are no different. With only a few seconds left in timeout, let's end the game strong. Let's take a lesson from Allen Iverson on practice. Practice? Practice? Nah, I'm just kidding. A lesson from Russell Westbrook on execution and a lesson from 1992 Michael Jordan on how to seal the deal. With no competition and a team this solid, we were guaranteed championship rings from the moment we stepped foot on this campus. As the clock runs down, take these words as a setup for an assist that way we all have a hand in the final play. The only difference is, this time we do not take the shot we rush the middle and we slam dunk because we already know we are the champions.

Congratulations. Break!