I was thrilled to attend last week’s convocation. The day preceding it, Senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren had declared she was running and this was her first official speech on the campaign trail. And her speech was indeed a good one. I was honored that she kept to the purpose of using the occasion to truly communicate to our students by stepping into their shoes at the beginning of an academic year.
Her advice to them, “When someone says to you, ‘ You can’t do something,’ if you believe in it, do it anyway. When someone says, ‘You’re going to get beat even before the game begins, quit,’ then get in there and fight harder. Stand up for what you believe in, because sometimes, sometimes, you can win.”
Very good advice. But I listened to that advice with the powerful backdrop of an earlier part of the program, really one of those “throw away” parts, the introduction by a student of a university administrator.
Well. You read it. And see what I’m talking about. This remarkably articulate graduate student started out by relaying his humble origins. His very humble origins. And then he proceeded to wow the audience with how far education had brought him, and the bold confidence he exhibited for how far he will still go.
Good Morning students, faculty, and friends.
My name is Robert Goodwin and I am the new President of the Graduate Student Assembly.
Twenty-two years ago, I stood across from this campus, hungry, homeless, penniless, and a high school dropout. Today, I stand before you, confident, happy, having just finished a Master’s degree in history from this great institution.
What does UMass Boston mean to me?
In a word, opportunity. Opportunity allows a person to grow and become something special. Opportunity means giving someone a chance when no one else will. And opportunity is the embodiment of what this institution stands for.
Many times in the past, I was told I could not achieve my dreams; that because of my past, I was not worthy of the opportunities that others received. It is here, under the watchful guidance of UMass Boston’s faculty, that I have been given the tools and positive response which has allowed me to truly take flight. Here at UMass Boston, individualism is nurtured, all cultures are welcomed, and harmonious relationships are created.
I love this institution with all my heart and I am honored for the opportunity to be the new President of the GSA. My goal is to eventually continue my studies here in a doctoral program while serving the students of UMass Boston, giving back to an institution that has given me so much, and helping to prepare it for the 21st century.
Well, I know one person who has already followed Elizabeth Warren’s advice – in spades. It is Robert Goodwin. And believe me, there are many, many more Goodwins at Boston’s remarkable public university.
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Nan Cormier is director of advancement communications