President Drew Bogner's Remarks at Commencement 2019

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, faculty, administration and staff, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2019 Commencement ceremony. First, to the graduates of the Class of 2019, let me extend my sincere congratulations.

I would like to extend my thanks to the faculty and administration for another job well done in educating this next group of Molloy alumni. I would also like to extend my sincere appreciation to the Board of Trustees, seated on stage, and the former trustees in attendance with us today for their tremendous leadership.  

As Molloy students, I'm sure you have walked the campus hundreds if not thousands of times, strolling into the Public Square, passing under the big banner over the door. Can any of you tell me what the banner says? Live Your Story.

As soon to be graduates of Molloy, I ask you:  are you ready for the next chapter in your story? As with any good story, your story needs interesting and fascinating characters, quite frankly, like you. It needs some adversity. A little tension and some humor. And, it needs a heroic ending.

Now my story is a lot longer than most of yours. As many of you know, I'm getting ready for the next chapter in my life as well - retiring from Molloy at the end of the next academic year. I've always approached my story - my life with an openness to change and to the surprises life can bring and a willingness to accept challenges seeing them as opportunities.

For a number of years, I have hosted student luncheons so they can meet each other and talk with successful alumni who pursued the same field of study. While each alum had different pathways to success, there were similarities to each journey.

First, none of these alumni had followed a straight path to success. Most ended up in some other place than he or she had envisioned. Life is not really linear and we cannot really comprehend all the possibilities that might come our way.

Second, each was open to change and said YES to opportunities presented to them - YES to new challenges at work - additional assignments even if it meant less social time and even when it did not mean any more pay.

Third, each was willing to risk - start over, change jobs or even careers. There is no reward without risk.

A few of you know my story. I was a premed student in college and was accepted into the University of Kansas Medical School.  This had been my singular goal in college, but once in, I began to question if it was what I really wanted to do. I signed up for the LSAT, but didn't take the exam.  I was offered a job as an admissions counselor by my alma mater but didn't take the job. Eventually, I decided to go to medical school to see if it was right for me.

It was a tough decision and tough decisions often require good counsel from those you trust. In this case, it was my Dad. I still remember the conversation.

My dad had an office in the basement, and I would pass by it on the way to my bedroom that was also in the basement. Like most of you, I was a commuter student through most of my college time.

It was late - I had been out with friends and he was still up. The dark of night always seems to me to be the best time for meaningful conversations. I described my dilemma, my feelings and my uncertainties. He said, "Drew, you're in - you might not ever get this chance again, so... GO!  See if it is for you and if it's not leave - you can always leave."  

He gave me permission to try, to explore and to move on if required. So let me give each of you the same permission - go out there and give it all you've got, but know that you can move on and try other paths. Life is a journey of the head and the heart. Both inform your sense of self and happiness. Listen to both.

I stayed in Medical school for three semesters. Along the way, I met my wife Karen, who was a nursing student. I always say that my reason for going to Medical School was to meet Karen and such is life. The gifts we receive from the events of our life's story are not always what we think each will be. Isn't that what a good story is like, full of twists and turns with unintended outcomes and surprises?

The second gift of my medical school years came from a summer fellowship I had in the Department of History and Philosophy of Medicine. When I entered the school, I didn't even know such a program existed, but I pursued the opportunity, and it was here in this experience that I decided that the academic life was more for me than being a physician. And look where it led.

I don't expect all of you to follow the same path I did and become college presidents, after all there are only 2,400 such jobs and that means half of the presidents would be Molloy graduates from the class of 2019. However, as Molloy alumni I expect you, each of you, to say YES to opportunities that challenge you and lead to growth and unseen possibilities.

Our life stories are special and unique, written by each of you in your own way. I am remarkably proud of what you have each accomplished, and I can only imagine what will come next.  

So let me end with a poem I wrote for you, the Class of 2019.

What is a metaphor for?
And how similar is it to a simile?
A metaphor is a story that makes a point,
While a simile describes in an alike way
That which is complex and hard to say.
Much like your life,
That is remarkable, complex and untranslatable.

Some will describe your story as a journey along a path
That is often unseen, but full of wonder, storms and thunder.

Others see your story as a book
With pages blank,
That you will write upon with the pen of experience.

But, I see your story as a song,
That is sung in harmony with others,
Sometimes soft
Sometimes with longing,
But as a heroic hymn that provides music for the cosmos.

And here in this hall
I hear from you all
A beautiful and resounding symphony of joy,
So full of possibilities.  

Congratulations!

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