Graduate Class Night Speech By Michael Kelliher
Embracing the Mission
"Good evening, President Drew Bogner, Ann Branchini, Vice President for Academic Affairs, administrators, faculty, family, friends and fellow graduates of the Class of 2017". This year's graduates will be getting their degrees in the following programs: Master's Degree Programs in Business, Criminal Justice, Education, Music Therapy, Nursing, Speech-Language Pathology, and the Ph.D. Program in Nursing. It is such an exciting time to be at the end, because the end is the start of a new beginning as we move forward either to pursue a career or to continue on the career path we've already started.
That's one of the great things about being a part of a Master's Degree program: everyone is at very different stages of their life. Some people have continued their studies right after finishing their undergraduate degree; and some have decided to return after a time away from academics. Whatever your path may be, you are here now, and most importantly, you did it. It is important however, to acknowledge the differences in walks of life. Molloy is made up of a unique student body.
Without a doubt, some of you have finished your degrees while coming home to your family after class. You just have to take one hat off and put another one on. That simple, right? Some of you shifted your busy work schedules so that you may get this degree and better yourself in some way. Some of us have brought our assignments to our jobs, so that we ensured getting all of our work done before that class we were taking. All of this does not come easy.
There are times we wanted to give up. It just wasn't going to work. Yet, we're still here with these funny robes and hats on.
In my music therapy classes it is part of our mission to treat clients as individuals, respecting individual differences so that we may better provide a healing service. I'm sure the same can be said about all of these programs from which students are graduating tonight - to see the person as an individual. It is a humbling experience to understand the life of another person. All of us have unique backgrounds. And our experiences do not go unnoticed.
You may have come home to a family who doused you with emotional support behind accomplishing this feat. You may have had professors who took time out of their day to understand your trials, and to support you in any way they could to make sure you gained everything you deserved to gain here at Molloy. That's what Molloy is made of - respecting our own individual differences and allowing us to gain the best education we can gain. And it goes beyond the faculty. How many of your fellow students have stopped what they were doing to help you "pick yourself up and get back in the race", as Frank Sinatra sings in "That's Life".
I have had the privilege to attend Molloy as an undergrad, as a grad student, and to work here as a music therapist. Before I came to Molloy, I really didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. For me it became: do something with music, or figure something else out. I came here as a junior in high school to try and make a decision. This was the first time I heard about music therapy, and it sounded like just what I wanted to pursue. When it came time to apply to colleges, I gave myself one option - Molloy. Crazy, right? I know that because for about 6 solid months that's all people said, "that's kind of crazy" accompanied by a strange look. I gave myself an ultimatum: go to Molloy or enroll in the armed forces. If you don't know me, take a good look. I'm a 6'1 string bean who hasn't played a sport since I was 5-years-old kicking grass on the soccer field. Yeah I'd make out just fine in the army... To my mother's saving grace I was accepted into Molloy and the music therapy program.
My first vivid memory of my impression of Molloy was during orientation; Scott Salvato was welcoming the incoming class. Scott reflected on why Molloy was great. His focus was on the community. He said "the people are just nice...when you walk from building to building, people smile at each other and people hold doors for each other." This is just a daily occurrence here. It is not a coincidence that the student body, faculty, and employees all tend to embody the missions of Molloy. Molloy's Mission has four pillars and community is one of those pillars. I'll paraphrase from Molloy's mission statement in regards to community. "We do not learn to walk alone...We need one another. Community challenges us with interdependence and diversity...What is the common good? How do we make room for others and their needs?" This is especially relevant in today's world. We are living in a time where social disparity is being challenged by the need for social justice. Molloy is not shy in its outreach to the community. Specifically, Campus Ministries engages in selfless acts of outreach such as the Midnight Run, which aims at delivering food, clothing, toiletries, blankets, and backpacks to those living on the streets of Manhattan. If you've been to one of these events, you have witnessed the amazing things that Molloy represents in giving back to the community.
I had the honor of singing at a few of these Midnight Runs. You might remember Molloy's own barbershop quartet, the Sons of Pitches. We sang at these Midnight Runs to express our support, and in turn we were given a glimpse of first-hand accounts of homelessness and how grateful these people were to receive such little gifts that we take for granted every day.
We can go out and continue that mission of community care and mindfulness. We can, with our education and life experiences, begin to make change. In these times of uncertainty and undeserving social inequities, let us bring to society all we have to offer, with an accepting perspective and open mind for justice and unity.
Thank you and congratulations to the class of 2017.