When I decided to apply to be the senior class speaker, I thought it would be in front of my peers at the Agganis Arena on May 10, 2020. I didn’t tell anyone that I was applying, save my best friend and go-to editor for all of my writing, because if I actually was chosen to be the speaker, I wanted it to be a surprise for all the people who were there to support me at the ceremony. However, as the deadline grew closer and closer, the world turned to chaos more and more everyday, and before I knew it, commencement was cancelled in lieu of a virtual graduation. When I actually submitted my application, I knew that no matter what I wrote, it would never come close to embodying the feelings that we all have going into a virtual commencement ceremony. Even though I wasn’t chosen to give the speech at graduation, I wanted everyone to be able to see the speech that I wrote, and to know that no matter what, we are in this together:
Hello families, faculty, staff, President Pelton, and the class of 2020. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Talia Santopadre. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting quite a few members of the Emerson community over the past four years, and I’ve been so thankful for the chance to work alongside each and every one of you, and to all of you, I would like to say, congratulations.
I think it is safe to say that this is not what any of us were expecting graduation to be. But if there is one thing that I know about the class of 2020, it is that we will make the best out of what we have. No, we don’t get a traditional graduation, but if we are being honest, we were never very traditional anyway. As Emersonians, we thrive through innovation and creativity. We have learned in unconventional ways that will someday make us assets to future employers. We have seen the way people who avoid change have failed, and we have proved we can adapt to situations we could have never predicted or imagined.
One thing I hope we will all take away from the Emerson Experience is that this community is unlike any other. The love and support that I have always felt has never wavered. Some of the people may have changed, but there was always a place to go when I was anxious, scared, or stressed out. You all have taught me that as an Emersonian, I will never be alone in the world and for that I am truly thankful.
It may not be a traditional graduation, but we still have reason to celebrate. We spent years, focusing on our dreams, studying until all hours of the night, and making sure we were ready to close this chapter and start our next one. While this isn’t the way that we imagined saying goodbye, I know that if there is any graduating class who will take this challenge and run with it, it is this one. We are still the creators that Emerson has helped foster. We are future filmmakers, writers, reporters, and performers, with countless opportunities ahead of us in any direction we go.
As we move forward into this next phase in our lives, let the emotions you feel remind you to always be kind, considerate, and passionate. Let your experience speak through your work, and continue creating the amazing things you do, because nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, can change the fact that you are someone who will change the world. Maybe it won’t be in the way you expected, but even if you help one person, you’ve made the world change for the better.
The world, probably now more than ever, needs us. They need us to innovate, create, and heal the things that are broken. Speaking for myself, I have a lot of trust that the Emerson Class of 2020 is the change that the world needs. I have worked alongside you, seen the passion you have for your crafts, and watched you succeed, and I can’t wait to keep seeing what you accomplish. I am so truly honored to be a part of the class of 2020, because in all of you, I have seen the positivity, creativity, and love we can all bring to the world. We adapt, we create, and we spread positivity through the crafts we’ve studied. That’s what it means to be an Emersonian.
Thank you all for making this a truly memorable four years. I am so blessed to have worked alongside each and every one of you and I wish you all the very best of luck with everything you do. Congratulations class of 2020, we have certainly earned this moment to celebrate.