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Student speaker Danielle Greene's 2012 Commencement remarks

  • Student speaker
    Student speaker
    Danielle Greene '12 served as the student speaker at this year's Commencement ceremony.
    Photo by Stephen Salpukas

The following are the prepared remarks of Danielle Greene, the 2012 student Commencement speaker. - Ed.

Good Morning, William & Mary, greetings to all who sit before me as well as to those who are seated to my rear… and Happy Mother’s Day. I’m so very excited and greatly humbled to have this opportunity to speak to you.

Thank you, President Reveley, for those kind remarks. I will definitely do my best to “dazzle.

{{youtube:medium:left|Uo_MmZ7KvRs, Danny Greene's Commencement speech}}

The great wizard, Albus Dumbledore, once said, “Differences of habit and language are nothing at all, if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” I think we can all agree that his words capture what it is to be an alumnus, student, or friend of The College of William & Mary. We may differ from one another, often in ways more extreme than night and day, but despite those differences, our aims of prosperity and happiness are the same, and therefore we are ONE TRIBE. It is no mistake that we are known as the “Tribe,” an entity that cannot be broken into smaller parts. Our many different hearts beat as one, not only in times of triumph, but also in times of terrible suffering, and that is what makes our institution great. Republican or Democrat, Native American or Persian, heterosexual or homosexual, quiet or boisterous, green and gold runs through all of our veins.

Yet despite all of this, it is now time to graduate. It’s time to leave this place, and move on to the next big stage in our lives. I’m sure there are many things we will sorely miss. However, what I hope and know will be cherished the most are the lessons learned here. Lessons learned in the Sunken Garden, at the Green Leafe, from professors, best friends (old and new), and, most important, family. These are the lessons we will never forget. Our experiences may differ, but they all are intertwined into what makes this institution’s story. A magnificent story that started long ago and thankfully will go on for years long after we have left.

Life is coming and it is coming fast. However, we need not fear all that it brings. Instead, remember that we will always have a home here at William & Mary, where our aims are identical, and our hearts are open. If you should ever forget or believe that not to be true, then come back and walk the storied and very uneven brick walkways here, and be reminded that everyone trips over the bricks here... and so … we trip together.

There is a Swahili word called “umoja” that describes the community here at William & Mary perfectly. The best English translation for umoja is unity, but it means so much more than that. No matter where we are, we can experience umoja with another person, group, or cause; it is a unification running so deep that it cannot be broken. That is what we have here with William & Mary. It will never go away.

Your mistakes are our mistakes, your triumphs are our triumphs, and no one is ever left behind. There is only ONE William & Mary, and we are ONE Tribe. So go out, learn, grow, love, experience, and be not afraid to fail, because we are here to catch each other. I believe in you… WILLIAM & MARY believes in you, and we can and will succeed... together. We may be leaving, but I trust that while our physical bodies travel the world, our hearts will never leave. Congratulations Class of 2012, and “may the odds ever be in your favor.”