Commencement 2012 Undergraduate Speaker: Joy Ann Fraychineaud

Uploaded by GallaudetVideo on 17.05.2012

Greetings, President Hurwitz, Board of Trustees members,
faculty, staff, families,
and most important of all, the Class Of 2012!
We did it.
All of us truly want to thank all of our professors,
the Gallaudet community and our families
for supporting, encouraging teaching, caring for,
and loving us during our time here.
I particularly want to thank the physical education department.
And also my family, the Bahan family, the Saunders family,
and Mark, thank you all for being with me
these past few years.
It's so hard to find the words to describe
what I'm feeling right now.
But no question, Gallaudet has been a very special place
and will always be our home.
I came to Gallaudet to play basketball,
but I found so much more here.
We've all had different experiences with our majors,
organizations and internships
and all of the leadership activities.
I would now like to reflect on the events
of the last four years of our lives while we were here.
On January 20, 2009, we witnessed
the inspiring inauguration
of America's first African American president,
just a few blocks away on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
We also witnessed the inauguration
of President Hurwitz,
and both of them will be signing our diplomas.
We've even had several natural disasters
over the last couple of years.
We had an earthquake in Washington,
an earthquake and tsunami in Japan and Haiti and Chile,
and it was inspiring to see the resiliency and strength
of the human spirit
as people and communities united to rebuild.
I remember how the Gallaudet community
became involved in supporting natural disaster relief
for Haiti's deaf community.
And how our general studies service learning classes
supported all of those efforts.
Our class of 2012 is the second class to graduate
under the new General Studies curriculum.
During our time on campus we have seen continued growth
that will sustain Gallaudet students for years to come.
We saw the Sorenson Language and Communication Center,
beautiful athletic fields and lockers
and a new residence hall.
As our time arrives to depart Kendall Green,
each of us now must seek new peaks to climb.
Our deaf community, of which Gallaudet is a big part,
faces enormous challenges in the next decade.
The landscape is changing rapidly.
Many schools for the deaf are struggling
with dwindling enrollments.
Parents of deaf and hard of hearing babies and children
are not always given enough information on education,
language and communication choices for their children.
Our presence and viewpoints are not always welcomed
within the medical and scientific community.
As deaf citizens, we need to become more involved
in the political process within the deaf community
and in our local communities, states,
and on the national level if we want to educate others
and be part of decisions that are being made
for our deaf children and our deaf community.
We should not wait for someone else to take the lead.
Whether small or large, we can make change happen.
As Mahatma Gandhi said, "You must be the change
you wish to see in the world."
I also encourage you to spread awareness of tolerance
and respect for others, prevent bullying,
protect human rights,
and work to eliminate oppression and violence.
I have been working to promote a healthy lifestyle
for children, youth, and adults,
and I urge you to do the same.
Now, as we begin to climb our peaks,
we face many challenges.
And if there's one thing that I wish to leave you with,
it's the commitment, passion, loyalty, optimism
and patience that you will need to succeed in your ascent.
In conclusion, I want to quote Irish singer and activist Bono,
"When the story of these times gets written,
we want it to say that we did all we could,
and it was more than anyone could have imagined."
Now let us celebrate our graduation
and the beginning of new journeys.
Congratulations and good luck to all of you.