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Sunday, May 26, 2019
Back to Ceremony

By Yina Wang ’19, Senior Class President

The unknown scares me. In fact, at this current moment in time, I don’t even know what I’m doing. I’m improvising this speech right now. Just kidding, even I can’t handle that level of unknown.

We, as the Class of 2019, are being thrust into this dark pit of the unknown. On one hand, this is incredibly scary. There are immense expectations placed on us during such a transitional period where we are just trying to solidify who we are as people. Trying to juggle school work with relationships, with your own mental health, with finding a job or applying to higher education is overwhelming, and whoever disagrees with me, please stop lying.

Yet, everyone still is moving forward in their own timeline of the unknown.

So, on the other hand, for this, I think we should give ourselves credit where we deserve, so naturally and as every graduation speaker does, I want to say I’m so proud of us and so thankful for what the unknown has given us. Congratulations to us. I know everyone has overcome their own struggles, and I would like to think that every moment is an accomplishment.

You just submitted your last undergrad assignment even though you procrastinated until the day of? Accomplishment.

Just had a meaningful and fun dinner at your professor’s house even though it was the tiniest of awkward? Accomplishment.

Just recovered from a mental breakdown at the Deece (I mean Gordon Commons)? Accomplishment.

Finally said hi to that cute person in your 9:30am class after four years of pining from afar? Biggest accomplishment ever.

The accumulation of our accomplishments, no matter how big or small, softens the rough edges of the unknown. All of a sudden, it’s not that daunting to navigate a new chapter of our lives knowing that you have made it through Vassar with the same fear four years ago. Our mentors, especially our professors, have passed down their knowledge from travelling through the unknown themselves, hoping that their experiences would guide us down a more informed path. Our parents have paved that path so that we can be sitting here today; so many sacrifices and years of love helped even out the ground on which we walk. So, I want to say thank you.

But you know what makes the unknown even less scary?

Knowing that my friends are in the unknown with me, probably stumbling in the dark just as I am.

It’s funny that I say this because I came to Vassar on a whim. I hadn’t even visited the school before I committed, and you bet, I knew absolutely zero people here. The spontaneity in my Vassar College chapter has shown me how rewarding the unknown can be.

Who would have known that I would be housemates with people from the adjacent fellow group from freshmen year?

Who would have known that the teaching assistant for CS102 would become one of my best friends?

Who would have known I would find a group of rowdy friends who contribute to my perpetual sleep deprivation?

Who would have known I would finally come to accept and explore my Asian identity at a traditionally white institution?

Who would have known I would finally go seek counselling when my mental health was declining?

Isn’t that the winning question: who would have known?

With this, maybe the unknown shouldn’t scare me. Maybe it should rejuvenate us as it promises infinite opportunities to grow and learn. Maybe the problem is that we shouldn’t have expectations of where the unknown is supposed to take us, but we should rejoice in our accomplishments where we do go. How many new friends are we going to meet along the way? How many new mentors will impart their wisdom onto us? How many failures will we experience on the way to greatness?

Some of the best things happen when you are least expecting it. I would say being a part of the Class of 2019 was special. Our class is filled with talent, motivation, humor, skill, finesse, and honestly a bunch of lovable weirdos.

From the collective struggle of freshmen move-in day to this very moment graduating from Vassar, I feel the spirit of our class alive and thriving, and we aren’t stopping here. Sure, we don’t know what we are doing, and that’s the fun of the unknown. We may stumble along the way, but we are in this together.

When my sad post-graduation blues hit me on the plane ride back home, I’ll be thinking, “Dang, I bet my friend John Doe is feeling this same type of way”. When I’m struggling to cook for myself, I bet some other member of Class of 2019 who is just as incompetent as me is feeling the same.

As long as we continue to support and build each other up, we will be remembered as forces of nature.

Can you even imagine what around 700 brilliant brains can do together? Probably something so powerful that the unknown may even come to fear us.

Thank you.