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Address to the Graduates, Hendrix Theater 
May 4, 2007
by Ellen Rainy Brake

Over the next few days, we will hear several speeches, each of which will remind us to be proud of our accomplishments as college graduates.  They're right; graduating from college is a monumental feat, and one that should be taken seriously.  But, with my time, I wanted to also remind us that we did not accomplish this alone.  As Isna-la-Wica of the Teton Sioux nation says, "I have seen that in any great undertaking, it is not enough for a man to depend simply upon himself."  We are part of a community, and that community has joined us here today to acknowledge our achievements.

Today is not just a celebration of us as graduates; it is a chance for us to thank the people who have helped us to get here: the parents who indulged us with armloads of books at Barnes and Noble, the friends who patiently quizzed us on literary terminology the night before the big exam, the office staff who patiently arranged our schedules when we waited until the last minute to register, and the professors who taught us so much more than we’ll ever realize.  To these people, I want to say, "Thank you."

One of the most important lessons that I have learned at college is that you make your own family wherever you go.  Over the past few years, the staff, faculty, and students of the ECU English Department have become my family.  I want to thank the staff and student workers of the department for putting together such a lovely ceremony today, and for being amazingly supportive and helpful throughout the year.  I'd also like to thank the professors who have helped me to become the person and scholar I am today.  Being a student in your classes has taught me lessons in both academics and life.  I have learned how to be a contributing member of society, and how to write about that society in twenty pages or less.  I only hope that I can be as dedicated, professional, and inspirational in my own career.

The English Department has become a second home to me, and it will be difficult to leave next year, as I am sure it will be for all of us.  Change is never easy, and leaving something comfortable to try something unknown can be terrifying.  But I know that ECU has prepared us to take this next step in our careers.  Again, thank you, and congratulations to the class of 2007!


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