Graduate Commencement Speech 2020
By Elliott Floyd, MA, Experiential Education
Thank you, Dean Retherford, distinguished faculty, proud families, and class of 2020. I am very honored to have the privilege to share this speech with all of you. For myself, and those of you around the state of Minnesota, our nation and the world, this day marks the beginning of a new journey.
Throughout the course of our time at Minnesota State University, Mankato we have ridden many rapids on an educational and professional river. Some were strong and assailed us but for a time while others smoothly took their course, and yet, we have all made it to this point. As well, as I reflect back on my own journey, I too have navigated the holds of many a rapid and if I’ve taken anything away from it all, it would be first, to “seize the day” and lastly, “that there is more in us than we know.”
When I first walked into the Experiential Education Graduate program, I was not sure of what I wanted to do, nor where I wanted to go. However, through time and effort I was able to craft classes that resonated the most with me, diving deep into the realms of my curiosities.
I found things like parks and recreation, positive psychology, cognitive science and how nature can bolster human health and well-being. I submitted my first manuscript to an academic journal, was selected to give a TEDx talk, wrote a research grant, and I think I’m starting to actually enjoy APA formatting. Undoubtedly though, I could not have made it through this without the unwavering support of my professors and family, and I’m confident you all echo an analogous sentiment.
For me, the remorse of not trying far outweighs that of the actual failure or success. As such, I resolved to “seize the day,” taking it upon myself to pass research ideas by professors, have hard conversations about concepts that made my mind swirl, and above all take a risk. In the end, no one got hurt except my ego on occasion.
Additionally, by taking the time to seize an opportunity and risk a failure, I learned that there is a lot more in me than I ever believed existed. And now, it is with this I leave you with today: “seize the day,” finding or creating your own opportunities with an unwavering resolve, not being afraid to fall. For falling is perhaps more educative than any success. Moreover, realize that when a rapid seems to have you tightly bound (and when you muster the courage the embrace it and be present), I hope you will find and begin to believe that there is undoubtedly more in you than you know.
Congratulations, class of 2020!