This is the moment….

This is the moment in history and in your lives that you will never forget. Yes. It is graduation day, but it is also a look-back day. A day when you can look back and recall everything you went through just to get here. You went through endless nights of studying and researching, maybe listening to your stomach growl because you missed a meal, you lived through a global pandemic, you have been in the middle of a racial reckoning in this country, you lived through watching a country come together and grow apart, you watched some of your colleagues make it or not make it. Yet…you made it through.

This moment represents the substance of who you will become. This moment is a part of your new roots. I remember my roots…growing up in the segregated South. I remember drinking from a separate water fountains, Negroes not allowed signs and even cross-burnings. I remember feeling like the world didn’t want me there. Have you ever felt like that before? Like somehow, in all of your greatness, maybe the world had not made space for you.

This is the moment…

To understand that the world doesn’t define you, but that you are the architect of what you will be in the world. And to architect this life that you now move into, there are a few things I want you to remember:

  • Pay it forward and play it backwards. Always remember to be thankful for what others have done for you and remember to extend it forward. But also, don’t forget to look-back and revisit where you came from, what you’ve been through and how far you’ve come. Tying the past and the NOW informs what you will do in your future.
  • Know that sometimes the cure for the pain is in the pain. We are living in complicated times and sometimes it is tough to see the light, the hope, the brightness. Know that sometimes the greatest life lessons sit in this complication. Have you noticed how strong you are in this moment? How wise you’ve become? How many skills you’ve used that you didn’t even know you had?
  • Lastly, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail that we would sometimes face Complicated Truths. He said we’d sometimes be caught in the middle of two things that were understandable, but complicated, and we’d need to learn how to navigate both. In his day, he described two sets of Negroes – the ones who were so beat down and oppressed that they couldn’t fight for justice and the ones who had achieved educational and financial success and didn’t think they needed to fight for justice. Always examine the complicated truths.

This is the moment…

The moment where you take this important next step in your journey. The moment where you look back to look forward. The moment where you turn pain into your fuel. The moment where you architect your place in the world.

Congratulations, 2021 graduating class of CU Boulder. You have earned a prestigious degree and have achieved an extraordinary accomplishment. Now… go architect your future!

This is the moment.