Follow your heart ~Commencement Speech for the Class of 2011~Empire State College   Leave a comment

I wrote this speech for a class.

 Follow your heart

Commencement Speech for the Class of 2011

Empire State College

March 29, 2011

Speaker: Danelle Wolfe

Thank you for inviting me to this glorious occasion. Graduates, proud parents, esteemed faculty, friends and family I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from the best university in the world.


Look at you.

You made it.

Congratulations! (Pause) (Clap Hands)

You have PROVEN yourselves as students who searched for knowledge.

And today we celebrate that hunger and drive.   

As I look out on this crowd,

it is both humbling and inspiring.

I see the future before me in your eyes. (Point to audience)

You are one step closer to your dreams,

to your career moves

and new lives.

Today really is the FIRST day of the REST of your life.


I too am a graduate of Empire State College as was my mother.

That is,

the one person who was and always will be very dear to me,

my mother,

who passed away.

My mom taught me the value of love, (Slow down)


goals and a good education.

Growing up my mother did not push me

for the “good” grades. (Quote using gesture)

I took it upon myself to strive for A’s.

I WATCHED my mother,

a single parent,

holding down a job while going to school in the evenings

pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work from where else? (Pause)

Empire State College.

You guessed it.

Her struggles and courage inspired me to follow my dreams.

One of the happiest days I spent was on mom’s graduation day.

When they called Sheila Jobe,

I had a great sense of pride.

Chills ran down my arms.

Her PERSEVERENCE had paid off,

she did not give up.

Just as you look around at your fellow classmates

who did not give up. (Pause)

I am not sure what the time frame was for you beginning

your studies at Empire and ending with today’s

graduation ceremony.

Each of you will be different I know this to be true.  

It took me TWELVE years to receive

my first Bachelor’s degree.

I am going for a second presently.

The years were filled with taking courses and dropping courses

to be a primary care taker for my ill mother.

It seemed like I dropped more courses

than I was taking.


FINALLY I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

It was brilliant and blinding

as I basked in the glory of graduation.

I know my mom would have been proud.

I am a distance learning student

and I missed the opportunity to join my commencement. 

To have a speaker praise me

for the hard work, dedication, sweat and tears.

To say, ok now go out there and kick some butt!  (Point up)

Today, I am your speaker.

And I am here to give you some advice. (Speed up)

First, Life is not fair.

Who ever said life was fair?

I am still searching for that person.

If you are out there,

my e-mail address

is on the commencement handouts. (Look around)

No matter what people tell you it can go either way.

Lessons to be learned in this life.

There are many lessons to be learned in life.  

Which one will you choose?

Which path will you take?

Life is what you make of it.

Is it a bowl of cherries or do you see the pits?

I still hear my mother’s voice as she taught these truths

and instilled all of this wisdom into me.

Second, as you weave in

and out of situations,

meet forks in the crossroads of life

and dead ends

remember this, follow your heart. 

Three simple words that mean so much.

You have already followed your by heart by

reading all the required course assignments

and writing papers.

For some it meant staying up past midnight

only to get up at six to get ready for work

or feed the family. 


it goes much deeper than that.

Following your heart means

being in pursuit of happiness.

Now is the time to be truthful with yourself.

Asking the philosophical questions

Where does my happiness lie?

Who am I?

Where am I going?

How will I get there?

I encourage you to take an eagle’s eye view.

 You have already begun

the foundation of your dreams.

The time is here and now

and you are in control of your destiny. 

Socrates believed that there were different kinds of



and trivial.

But, the most important of all

was the knowledge of how best to live.

I wish for you the class of 2011

to never stop searching for knowledge

and to Follow your dreams, Follow your Hopes and Desires, Follow your Heart.  

Now go out there and kick some butt!  (Point towards audience)

Thank you all very much. (Throw cap into air)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: