Every year, Student Life and Leadership selects a commencement speaker from the graduating class. Representing the class of 2013 is justice major Kelsey Waldorf, whose speech focuses on continuing the quest for success and personal accomplishments well after graduation.
TNL: How did you decide to apply to be the 2013 Commencement Speaker?
Waldorf: I got an email after the deadline had passed for the application to be commencement speaker, and they (Student Life and Leadership Office) said that they were extending the deadline. And it’s been kind of a crazy semester — ya know, everyone’s last semester is always crazy. So someone just sent me an email and said, “Hey, I think you’d be a really good candidate for this. Have you given it any thought?” And so I gave it some thought, and I decided: Ya know what? That’d be really cool. And I feel like I have enough… that I could send to other graduating students my age. So I spontaneously decided to apply.
What issues will you be focusing on during your speech?
The issues that I want to touch on really have to do with…a challenge and not giving up. Because I think that it’s easy to assume that maybe you can just coast after you graduate. And I want to remind everyone in my class that our graduation and success isn’t really a ticket to success — there’s a lot after our graduation that we’ll have to work hard at.
Do you consider yourself a traditional student?
I’m a four-year student and I didn’t take any time off after high school or anything. I’m glad I didn’t. It’s kept me motivated to keep going and get graduated.
Why did you decide to come to UAA?
I decided to come to UAA because I’m a UAA scholar (sic, recte UA Scholar), so the scholarship opportunities were real good … and then the honors college was real appealing to me — and of course, the debate team. We have one of the best debate teams in the country.
What advice would you give to new UAA graduates?
I think that it’s really important to keep in mind that even if you apply to a million jobs and you are not hired, or you feel like you never are going to be able to succeed or achieve more in life … I feel like it’s really important to just keep going and to keep trying and to set that goal for yourself … even if a lot of things get in our way. Even if you don’t get hired at your dream job the first time, try again. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes or flounder a little bit, because ultimately I think everything can work out if you try hard and you really apply yourself.
What advice would you give to new or current student at UAA?
Definitely to get involved with what the UAA community has to offer … I am graduating with an excellent education from UAA, and I chalk a lot of that up to my willingness to seek out opportunity. There are huge amounts of opportunities at UAA because it’s a slightly more intimate school I suppose. So undergraduate research is a real possibility to many students who are interested in it at UAA, and that’s just not something you can find with Lower 48 schools … Those opportunities just open up and offer more opportunities and more opportunities and eventually that’s going to turn into the rest of your life.