It is traditional at every commencement ceremony for two students to give speeches on behalf of their graduating classes. This year, at the ceremony held on May 13, Lara Bianca Sarte (BA International Relations, Philippines) spoke on behalf of the undergraduate students and Roman Olegovich Chestnov (MA International Relations, Russia) gave the speech for the masters.
Lara began her speech by saying that as a transfer student to Webster Geneva she may well have been an outsider, but was very quickly welcomed into the community; "I met professors who inspired me to do better and friends who made me want to become a better person." She continued to say that her time at university has shown her that the perception of her generation as apathetic is false, and that, "we are still capable of fighting and loving, just not in the way those before us did. Let me tell you that the people of Webster Geneva have passion - a passion that forged our abilities, our friendships and ourselves."
She continued, "Webster has given me so much to be thankful for. It brought me the people I love, topics I'm passionate about, and a community full of possibilities." Lara then reflected on the place of the graduating class in the world by concluding, "I'm here to hold a mirror up to you all. I want you all to see what we are, what we have become, and everyone that has played a role in making us this way. It is not just us in this mirror, but also the professors and staff here at Webster Geneva, our loved ones and the communities that stand behind each of us. I cannot wait to see what lies ahead for each and every one of us."
The speech on behalf of the graduate class was given by MA International Relations student Roman Olegovich Chestnov, who explained that he understood his words, like those of his fellow speakers, should add something to the ceremony. However, he didn't want to use any of the usual clichés, even though they hold much time tested wisdom.
Instead he spoke about the relationship between knowledge and power; "In my opinion knowledge only empowers us if we allow it to do so. I think that belief in the greater value of knowledge is the secret ingredient that we, the graduating class of 2017, need to rediscover. Should we use our knowledge as a finite set of skills or should we examine it from different perspectives?"
"Studying International Relations has taught me that despite the progress of human civilization there are still many problems around the globe that need to be addressed. I hope that we will contribute to the resolution of these problems by taking full advantage of the knowledge that we now have."
Both speeches were warmly received by everyone present, and it is sure that the important themes they presented will resonate with the graduating students for years to come. Webster Geneva thanks both speakers for their valued contribution to the celebration.