Graduate Student Address by Sarah Mabry, MA’18

Good morning, graduating class of 2018. I would especially like to acknowledge all the mothers here today, Happy Mother’s Day.

Louis Brandeis once said, “If you would only recognize life is hard, things would be so much easier for you.”

I have often read this statement in front of the Gosman gym, puzzling over its seemingly contradictory nature. This quote is fitting for us as new graduates, because his surname is on our diplomas, résumés and contained in conversations about our alumni institution. His words remind me that life can be uncomfortable at times, and sometimes, it can hurt. Just as in life, we choose the weight we carry. If we are incapable of letting things go, and remain complacent about the pursuit of our dreams, we suffer. So when adversity knocks on our door, let us see it as an opportunity for growth and learning.

At Brandeis, we have come to realize it is not a matter of if we will face adversity in life, but when. So when adversity appears, the real question we must ask ourselves is, “How do we respond?” May our response to challenges bring mutual understanding and an increased capacity for considering diverse perspectives. We have obtained an educational degree from Brandeis to inspire positive change in the world, and through the development of a social awareness of complex issues that exist in our world, we have found resiliency and wisdom to not only discern the challenges we face, but how to respond appropriately.

Our Brandeis experience has both changed and challenged us. We have learned not to avoid conflict, because it’s through adversity that we become more resilient. Further, we better understand each other and our world when we focus on serving others. As students, we may not have possessed many material things, so we shared what we had, a meal, time, conversation. We learned how to support each other through the journey of term papers, assignments and projects. We supported one another through simple, everyday moments, in friendly conversation during late nights of study in the library, and gathering in the graduate student center and also in the classroom, as we engaged in dialogue with one another. In other words, in our response to adversity, I hope we have developed a deeper understanding of one another's perspective, not just insistence on our own point of view.

How do we enjoy life's journey with all its twists and turns, while keeping in mind our Brandeis experience? For what happened won't return. What will happen tomorrow, we can only predict. I hope we have seen that in the midst of all the activities and deadlines, the most important aspect was the journey itself, not the arrival. Regardless of the goals we have set for ourselves, our success and our ability to adapt to life’s challenges will not be measured by our good grades, our college degree, or the balance in our bank account. In other words, if our focus is only outward, by this, I mean on our credentials or status, and without reflection inward, ultimately, we will be left feeling unsatisfied. Indeed, if our only goal is to reach the end of our journey, we miss the point. For though it was our goal to be here today, with our diploma in hand, may it not be the goal unto itself.

Let us always remember the power of learning and make good use of it, for being a positive influence in the lives of others, in our future studies, in the workplace, in our families and personal lives. In conclusion, may we continue to respond to adversity with wisdom and strength, finding ways to show understanding, and serve one another through each challenge ahead. Thank you.