At the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s commencement ceremony on May 12, newly-minted bachelor’s degree alumna Emily Jones shared her thoughts with the graduates of the Class of 2018. Jones graduated with high distinction and is currently serving as the fundraising and development intern at the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center. She will continue on with the master’s degree program in philanthropic studies in the fall of 2018. A full transcript of her commencement comments is provided below.
“Hello! I cannot believe this day is finally here. For some of us, the journey has been longer than others. Some of us probably started to doubt that this day would ever come. I know I was beginning to get there. But we’re here and we’ve made it. We’ve pursued our passions and now we’re coming out the other side. Well, some of us still have a few more credits to go, but that’s a technicality we won’t get into right now.
“It is far too easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life with our part-time or even full-time jobs, full class loads, family obligations, seemingly endless amounts of readings, papers, reflections, and internship obligations, need I go on. College is demanding, and at some points, we feel we barely have time to sleep or breathe, let alone revel in our victories, large or small.
“So right now, I just want us all to take a second and recognize this incredible accomplishment. Let’s all just take a deep breath in, close our eyes, and live in this moment, recognizing not only our own successes, but also the achievements of our classmates surrounding us today. Let go of the wonderings and worries that accompany unknown futures because right now, in this moment, we are victors. And nothing and no one can take that away from us.
“Nelson Mandela said that education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. This graduating class, or classes rather, are made of world changers. We entered this program with preconceived passions and an awareness of issues close to our hearts. We came here knowing we had a desire to heal and help a world in need, even if we were unsure how that might manifest.
“Some of us found our answers in social justice advocacy, or working on a development team for a cause we were willing to donate our time, talent, and treasure, and want to encourage others to do the same. Some of us admittedly love animals more than people, and hope to create an equitable world for all earth’s creatures. Some of us are responding to an international calling with the large scope of philanthropy that reaches to distant nations and foreign peoples.
“We are fundraisers and environmentalists, defenders of democracy, youth leaders, activists, protectors of civil rights, social entrepreneurs. We are philanthropists now and forever. No matter where we all end up, whether we are on our way into a graduate degree program, applying to law school, or entering the work force, manning the front desk of a domestic violence shelter, working with boots on the ground in a grassroots organization, or on our way to becoming a major gifts officer.
“I hope that none of us ever lose sight of this school, this city, these faces, and the impact these past years have had on our lives. Now is the time to celebrate, and we will celebrate. But after that, after the confetti has settled and the glasses have been raised in our honor, our mission is to go out and show this world what voluntary action for the public good really looks like. I can think of no group of individuals better suited for the job. Thank you.”