Friday, April 21, 2017

Commencement Speech

Hello Joe Albero,

My name is Samantha Vitone and I am graduating this year from Salisbury University. Awhile ago, I was nominated to say a commencement speech at my graduation ceremony. I found out last week that my speech was not selected as a finalist. I am very discouraged but I am proud of myself for trying. I would love for you to read my commencement speech. My main message is to never give up on your dreams and goals in life, especially those who have a physical or mental disability. I would love my message and my commencement speech to be read by millions of people to help raise awareness with individuals who have a disability.

Thank you,
Samantha Vitone
 


Commencement Speech
Hello everyone and welcome to the Class of 2017’s graduation! It is remarkable how we are finally here on this special day. From those late nights we spent cramming for a quiz the next day or working on papers all day that were due in a few hours, it all has paid off. As college comes to an abrupt end and the future awaits us, it is now time for us to enter adulthood. So now what? Maybe some of you are pursuing another degree while some of you might be looking for a job. It is interesting how our goals have changed since before entering college to after graduation. I know my goals have definitely changed. I remember as a senior in high school, I did not know if my goal of being accepted to a University would be achieved due to the fact that I have a learning disability. As a result of my disability, I did not have the best GPA and was in mostly lower level classes even though I tried my hardest to do well. My high school staff and teachers alike had very little to no confidence in my ability to go far in college or even being accepted to any to begin with. All they kept saying to me was, “It will be very difficult for you and you are going to struggle a lot.” The more negativity I heard regarding myself and my abilities, the more I would lose hope in my main goal of being accepted into any university. In spite of my high school hardships and doubtful projections from staff on my post-high school outlook, I can genuinely say look at me now.

Salisbury University saw potential in me. I was and still am a dedicated and hardworking student which I believe the school saw in me. When I received my acceptance letter from Salisbury, I screamed at the top of my lungs with excitement. I could not have been any happier that day. I appreciate and love Salisbury for multiple reasons: it is a medium sized school, there is diversity among students, it has a beautiful campus setting, professors will meet with you one and one, and the campus has a very positive atmosphere. Salisbury provides several organizations and clubs that helped me become active and involved within the community such as: Girls on Top of the World, Best Buddies and more. The Best Buddies organization is dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement which has created many opportunities for one-on-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I chose to be a peer buddy, which means that I had my own buddy who has one or more disabilities. When I was partnered with my buddy we clicked. I can relate to my buddy because we both have a disability. Since meeting my buddy, I would never want a person with a disability to experience what I have felt and endured in my past. I have been mocked, humiliated and bullied for having a learning disability. Best Buddies helped me find ways to make a difference in the world by being there for someone who needs a best friend.


Each and every single one of you, will make a difference in the world regardless of what your major says on your diploma after leaving college. I am a Sociology major and my major has prepared me to develop and utilize strategies to help society. I want to read you one of my favorite quotes that I have as a poster in my room. I look back on the quote when people bring me down, when I am stressed or am not feeling confident in myself. The quote is by the Dalai Lama called NEVER GIVE UP.

“No matter what is going on
 Never give up 
Develop the heart 
Too much energy in your country 
Is spent developing the mind 
Instead of the heart 
Be compassionate 
Not just to your friends 
But to everyone 
Be compassionate 
Work for peace 
In your heart and in the world 
Work for peace 
And, I say again 
Never give up 
No matter what is going on around you 
Never give up” 

Before I end this speech, I want to wish each and every one of you success in whatever endeavor you choose to pursue and follow. I want to thank the individuals who never gave up on me, who were confident in my abilities, and were supportive throughout my years in college: Salisbury University’s staff and faculty, my family, friends and my boyfriend. Congratulations Class of 2017, we made it!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Samantha ,

I too have a learning disability , I'm now 74 years old and have had a wonderful life as you will with your attitude. You will make a good leader and should do well the rest of you days. You have inspired me and my family , you rock.

Jill Hearne said...

I so admire you! You will be a positive role model to so many, and wish you the best in any endeavor you undertake.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Joe for sharing this. This young woman will brighten many in our world!!

It should make many appreciate what we have and what each can do - everyday!

Anonymous said...

When writing this you used the word "I" too much. You should have made it less about YOU and more about EVERYONE. They are looking for a speech that everyone identifies with not a
speech that focuses on the speaker. Just my opinion. In your future writings, try this exercise. Write it. When done, re read it and take out every ME, MY and I and replace it with something else. It truly does make a huge difference in how it present to others. It is a lesson that I learned and really helped my communication skills.

Anonymous said...

You will make a great Liberal. I, Me, My, is all you know and you will apply that to all, so lovely. We are all better off you forewarned us of your graduation and entry into the world!

Anonymous said...

4:49 PM very nice post, very well put. Applies to us all, thanks for the advice.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to remove an "I" and a "MY" in the last sentence. Reread it.

Anonymous said...

She never said she was an Eng/Lit. major. She should be made president of SU.

Anonymous said...

Great job, Ms. Samantha Vitone