The following is a finalist graduation speech written by Kelli Griffin.
As each of us walks across this stage we will receive a small sheet of paper. It represents several years of waking up way earlier than we would have liked, studying for endless tests, and of course, all of the fun and laughs along the way. We will exit this stage and cross the threshold into adulthood, an adultier-adulthood then we’ve been before. Hopefully our parents have cleared out that extra spare bedroom ;). This represents a monumental moment we will always remember and I am sure I can speak for all of us when I say, and we are pretty darn excited about it.
This ceremony cements us into history and seals us to those who have passed before us. We are now a part of the Southern Utah University alumni family. Our legacy is now their legacy and our actions reflect our community just as the others before us. For better or worse we are connected to each other because of this permanent bond.
Marian Decker (Class of 1987) graduated from SUU and obtained a degree in Political Science and European History, she went on to graduate from the University of Utah with a Law Degree and now works as the Section Chief in the Criminal Appeals Division at the Utah Attorney General’s Office.
Colby Cowan (Class of 1996) played golf for the university, and fell in love with it so much he now serves as Director of Golf Operations for St. George City.
Kelly Udall (Class of 2014) graduated with an art history degree. After graduation she moved to New York City hardly knowing anyone, and now runs a very successful art gallery.
David Benedict (Class of 1995) serves as the appointed chief operating officer for Auburn University Athletics.
Amy Marquedson Morgan (Class of 1997) graduated from SUU with her degree in math education. Show now lives in Wayne County and her greatest joy is being a mom.
These people are from the same community, and may have even been taught by the some of the same professors that we know, Art challis ;). This university may have changed a bit but our mission statement hasn’t. We are a part of what they are. We are Southern Utah University Alumni. Throughout our years in college we have learned many things and have made great memories. Here are a few things of what the class of 2016 have said to be their very favorite.
- Jeffrey Yon, a Geology major, said his favorite memory at SUU was when his undergrad professor Johnny MacLean jumped for joy in excitement when he informed him he had made it into graduate school! He said He was like a kid on Christmas morning! His excitement and encouragement solidified Jeffrey’s love for SUU and thinks it is wonderful that we have Professor's who push students to achieve and reach for bigger and grander things!
- Katrina Empey, a communication major, shared that being a part of Orientation easily made it her favorite summer here. She was able to share her love and passion for SUU with incoming students who were scared to move away from home and begin college. She loved the opportunity to meet so many new people and encourage them to find their personal love for our university.
- Aj Cozzens, a sociology major, said he simply loved meeting so many new people.
- Cameron Alldredge, a psychology major, said for sure when he walked under the bell tower as a freshman as everyone cheered and welcomed in the new incoming class.
- Taylor Ellsworth, a sociology major, shared that her favorite memory was when she got to throw paper airplanes off of the bell tower with President Wyatt. She was chosen out of a pool of students who commented on a social media video. She said, “What made the day extremely memorable was being able to talk with President Wyatt all afternoon and getting to laugh with such a wonderful man. When I was walking away with my arms full of prizes, he took an SUU ball cap and placed it on my head to take home to my husband. It was so neat to spend the afternoon with the president doing something purely fun, and it was neat that he took the time out of his busy day just to spend with us.”
These are just a few memories, but together they add to all of the years that we have had at SUU, the fun, and the happy times we will cherish forever. Our graduating class is filled with incredible people. And like the individuals that have come before us, we are destined for greatness.
One example of this is Katelynn Noorlander she grew up in Montana, in a family of 6. She is not only the first college graduate in her family, but the very first to even graduate high school. She was determined to have something better for herself and knew that attending a university was the right decision. After receiving a flyer in the mail, her and her mom checked out SUU’s website and across the top of the screen it stated “100% pass right for NCLEX” which is the test you need to pass in order to become a nurse. With determination in her eyes she looked at her mom and said, I have to go there! Her mom replied “Kate, but it will be really hard!” Hard didn’t scare her. She is graduating today from the nursing program with a 3.87 GPA. We, along with her family, are extremely proud.
I could go on and on about this wonderful and talented class. They are an exceptional group with a very bright future, a future I hope our alumni are proud of. I hope this is because while living in Cedar City, we have learned that people are good, the staff and faculty at SUU have molded and shaped us to be sitting where we are now. It may have come from the long hours of endurance, but we couldn’t ask for better people to teach us and be role models today.
C.S. Lewis once said, “You are never too old to set another goal, or dream a new dream” Our sky is literally limitless. So as you go about on your next adventure remember that people want you to succeed. As SUU alumni, be proud of where you come from. We are now a part of the legacy that has been laid before us because of the people that have influenced us here.
We will we meet new friends, come across laughter, perhaps run into hard times, but we have learned those times always pass. There is nothing you cannot handle, and remember to find joy in the little things.
So even though our professors are sighing with relief and our academic advisors are ready to take a very long vacation, we know they’ll miss us. And remember to be thankful to them because from President Wyatt to the facilities crew they all want what is best for us and care about our future.
And as the class of 2016 we thank you with all of our hearts.
Kelli Griffin is excited to be graduating in April with her Bachelor’s Degree in Strategic Communication with a minor in Graphic Design. She grew up in Richfield, Ut in the middle of 4 siblings. While attending SUU she has been a member of the Presidential Ambassador Organization for 3 years as well as served as an International Ambassador, on the Institute Council, intern at the Alumni House, and worked in the Guest Services Department as an assistant scheduler. She is so grateful for her time at this wonderful university as it has shaped her into the woman she is now. She loves reading, running, hiking and is thrilled to be attending SUU again in the Fall to obtain her Masters in Professional Communication.