Asya Ashour, Valedictorian, Accounting major, Class of 2013
Valedictory Address - May 10, 2013
Good morning faculty, administrators, honored guests, alumni, family, friends, and the LIU Post graduating Class of 2013!
I want to start out by saying how proud I am to be one of you here today, and how proud I am of all the graduates for dedicating themselves to achieving success. It has been a long journey, but the hard work and commitment we have invested over the past four years made today possible. Most importantly, the dedication that all our professors have had toward our education, and their motivation and support, are no doubt assets that we have carried throughout our college years, and will continue to carry with us to all our future accomplishments.
As for me, I would not be here today if it wasn't for the tremendous support of my family and professors, as well as our University. In fact, I am here today because Post not only knows about the struggle I face as a Muslim Arab American woman, but the fact that it has decided to support me in my battle for religious tolerance and appreciation of the individual.
When I was still a candidate for Valedictorian, I told the selection committee that everyone has a battle in life, and this is mine. Submission is not an option, especially when it involves giving up what I believe in or part of who I am. And here I am today. Not because I am the most intelligent and not because I worked the hardest. But because Post has decided to support me in my battle. Because Post believes in me, and in every person who fights for what they believe in. Because this is what Post stands for.
And so I urge you all, fight your battle. Fight for what you believe in, and fight to make the change you want to see in this world. It will not be easy, but our eventual victory will not only be ours, but also the victory of those who will follow in our footsteps.
In fact, many of us would not be here today if those before us had not fought for their rights. And so I extend my deepest appreciation to all the advocates of the Women’s and the Civil Rights Movements, which have allowed many of us to obtain the rightful education and careers we otherwise would not have had the opportunity to pursue. But they have already paved those paths. Now it is our turn. Mahatma Ghandi said, “the future depends on what we do in the present,” and so let us be those who are remembered for being the pioneers of a better world.
Another student who Post has supported is our wonderful Salutatorian Minqi Li, who has marvelously excelled during her college years even though she is an international student and knew very little English when she first came to Post. I would like to invite Minqi to say a few words…
“I would like to say a few words especially to my fellow International graduates of the class of 2013. Four years ago, we made our choice to study in a different country. Four years ago, we made one of the most significant choices in our whole life. Although we knew this journey would be quite tough and full of challenges, we still chose this path without hesitation. That was because we knew where there is a challenge; there is also an opportunity. Eventually, after all of our hard work, we are standing here, celebrating this marvelous moment for ourselves. We never regretted it because today we can finally prove ‘how good we really are.’ We should definitely be proud of ourselves. At last, I would like to congratulate you all again and wish you the best of luck. Remember, graduation represents a new start rather than an end. ‘Stay hungry, stay foolish.’ Thank you.”
On a final note, I would like to thank those who have supported and inspired me during my two years at Post. I must first thank my absolute favorite professor, Dr. James Bednarz. This is where words start to fail because, as Flaubert says, “human speech is like a cracked cauldron on which we knock out tunes for dancing bears.” I am so blessed to have been your student, and will carry your speculative and inspirational spirit with me forever. Also, thank you Dr. John Scheckter for introducing me to the eccentric Emerson and Thoreau. Many thanks to Professor Paul Strohmenger for having confidence in me, and when I told him I thought one failure was fate and I should accept it, he told me “I am not accepting that.” Likewise, thank you to Dr. Joan Digby, Tracey Christy, Vinnie Simon, Dr. Alex Kim, Dr. Jiamin Wang, and Professor Andreas Alexander for their enthusiastic and always supporting spirits. Most importantly, thank you to Dean Andrew Rosman, Dr. John Lutz, and Dean Katherine Hill-Miller for making one of my dreams come true.
On behalf of our Salutatorian, Minqi Li, and myself, congratulations to the Class of 2013!!