Last December I was invited to give the student speech at the University's President's Club Holiday Dinner. The event, put on by the UofM's Foundation, invites the most generous donors from across the University to celebrate an evening of giving. As the student speaker, my purpose was to illustrate the dreams that these donors make possible. At Carlson, we see those dreams coming true every day. So many students in each MBA class are awarded incredibly generous scholarships, making attendance at such a great program easier. Truthfully, without the kindness of these donors I wouldn't be able to write this blog post, b/c I wouldn't be able to attend Carlson. Literally, their generosity makes this all possible for me.
I was honored to serve as the voice of my peers, from Carlson and across the University, to say "thank you" to those individuals. Below is a transcript of my speech, a speech I hope I also gave on your behalf--as a future Carlson student:
When I first sat down to write this speech, I was certain the words would just flow... after all, what is easier than talking about myself? But recalling students' remarks from past events, I quickly grew intimidated: one student spoke of her international travels, another of an outfit she designed for NASA, and so on the stories went... Each student had shared a narrative that was unique, adventurous, and truly inspirational, and I wondered what I could contribute to this archive; my life, after all, is just my life--seemingly similar to those around me every day.
I began to feel a little bit defeated, and plagued with writer's block. So like any good millennial, I hopped on Facebook. :) I clicked around to see what my friends were up to, and after not too long, I began to fully realize what I was seeing in the updates of my friends' lives: Students truly impassioned by a recent news article and others posting updates from companies they have founded. One classmate had just finished the New York City Marathon, another was raising money for mental health awareness month. Peers were updating their statuses from the Fortune 500 companies they work for. Some students were donating their time at local shelters, and others were prepping for study abroad trips.
Here were my friends doing really incredible things with their lives and, like me, it has just become old hat to them... it isn't remarkable or noteworthy to us, it's just what we do.
This University has empowered us to believe in incredible dreams, to do amazing things, and to always expect more of ourselves and of each other. All humility aside for a moment, here at the University of Minnesota, doing something great is just kind of "our thing."
As Deb mentioned, I am a dual degree student here at the U, pursuing both a JD at the Law School and an MBA at the Carlson School of Management. I know what you're thinking, and no, I'm not crazy, just eager to learn and anxious to do the best work I can in this world with the tools this school has given me.
I've been fortunate to benefit from financial support, like the Arleen Carlson MBA Fellowship, which has enabled me to go beyond simply pursuing my degrees to get involved throughout campus and the community to make a difference in the lives of others.
When I'm not buried in a casebook or prepping a client-presentation, I'm singing and dancing in a TORT production, or managing our Elite 8 case competition; I'm giving tours of the school or teaching street law to area high school students; I'm supporting career services or mentoring prospective dual degree students; or I'm doing dozens of other things...
Again, not because I'm crazy, but because I go to this amazing school that tells me I can do whatever I want, and be whatever I want, and because I have all of you as my support system along the way.
No longer am I intimidated by the accomplishments of my peers, but I am proud to walk among them.
I am grateful for your generosity in bringing us together here at the University of Minnesota, in providing for us the opportunity light up the world with our contributions and accomplishments.
Having lived this experience under your kindness, "thank you" hardly seems to be enough; so instead, I make you a promise:
On behalf of my peers, all 50,00 of them, I promise to live my life to its fullest, even when skating by seems easier;
I promise to touch the lives of those around me, affecting them for the better, even when I don't know quite how I'm going to do it;
I promise to always continue learning, even long after I've left the U (and even when it's math);
I promise to take risks, embrace second chances, and accept opportunities to be humbled;
and above all else, I promise to never forget the humility, gratitude, and true blessings I have found here at the U, thanks to the generosity of people like you. Thank you.