Each of us came here with different experiences and backgrounds. I came from a town and a high school where most people were a lot alike, so I was not really challenged to accept new ways of thinking, and I'll admit that I was a little immature.
At Manchester, I came into an accepting environment that allowed me to find my identity and choose the values and morals I want to live by for the rest of my life. I love how the faculty and staff work to maintain that environment. Soon I met Awesome people like Walt (Wiltschek), President Switzer, my advisor Dr. Clark, and my roommate Jordan Garber.
I would like to share a one of my thoughts about family, drawing upon Jesus' words in 1 Corinthians 12: Even so, the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”
I have seen that each person here has a unique set of abilities and spiritual gifts that you've developed through the pursuit of knowledge and through actions toward others. I've learned not to be so proud to think that I can function without relying on the rest of you, so thank you for being that support. Spending a lot of time in the intercultural center, the chapel, or just hanging out in the Union, I have realized that I am simply a part, not meant to judge any other part, of a greater family. We are meant to show love, regardless your faith, religion, language, gender, sexual orientation, race, nationality, culture, and the list goes on.
We may have all come from different backgrounds, but now we have a common experience. We've attended Manchester University (College), had classes together, struggling through some, excelling in others, and today we are graduating. We are graduating together as one body of Manchester students. So as you look to your own future, use your broadened perspective to be a loving part of whatever family you belong to next. Good luck, and have fun with it!
Finally, I want to thank Walt for the opportunity to share today and recognize him as a leader here at Manchester. He started here four years ago as well. I feel like we have a special connection since he arrived at about the same time I did, and he's been a guiding light for me along the whole journey. I see him constantly encouraging us, helping us keep our sanity, and leading us to peace. The words he speaks at chapel and events like these inspire everyone who hears them to seek God's presence. Thanks, Walt.