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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Senior Speech by Tanika Pradhan '16

Senior Class Speaker Tanika Pradhan '16

Watch the senior speech by Tanika Pradhan '16 »

Thank you President Amott for that incredible introduction. I sound very impressive when you put it that way. Good morning, to all of you present here, thank you friends and family for being here to celebrate this auspicious day with us.

My name is Tanika Pradhan and I am a rising alum. As I stand here today, I am nervous, excited, happy, apologetic in advance for any time during the speech I will mess up and rest assured, that will happen, and incredibly proud to be part of the exceptional graduating class of 2016. As some of you know, I am also an international student from Nepal. We have a greeting we use in my country, that I'm sure most of you are familiar with. Let me give you a hint. It's often used during yoga classes, and is known to appear in meditation journals, wall decals, t-shirts, and on the ever so rare occasion, on the seat of obnoxiously pink boxer shorts that I once found when I was online. The greeting is "Namaste." While the word is quite fashionable, the meaning isn't very well known. NamaŠł• means "bow'' and te means "to you," so literally translated "Namaste" means "I bow to you." While there are a couple different interpretations of the word, the one that resonates with me most is "The Spirit within me bows and honors the Spirit in you." Nepal, being a very religious country uses the word "spirit" in the more divine sense but my interpretation doesn't only look at the religious aspect.

Spirit can also mean energy, drive and motivating force. It can mean the determination to overcome challenges. It can refer to one's resolve to use mistakes as lessons rather than sources of discouragement. Thus, today I would like to say "Namaste" to all my fellow graduating seniors because I salute and honor your spirit. The spirit it took for you to be standing here today, after battling all the challenges that Knox has put us through. I honor the spirit that made you strive to excel at whatever you did. I salute you for refusing to be defined by your comfort zone, but rather, breaking apart from it so you can thrive. I honor the determination it took for you to face the everyday, because everyday brought challenges new and manifold. I honor the spirit of those of you who had to work multiple jobs and long hours to put yourselves through college because money was never a steady thing. I respect you for being the first in your families to ever get through the intimidating and grueling process that is college. I honor the spirit of you leaders, who motivated and mobilized people in various organizations, clubs and teams, with your vision and your drive to achieve it. I pay you respect for the sports you played, conferences you attended, shows in which you performed, honors projects you defended, majors you self-designed, articles you published, Flunk Days you planned, philanthropy events you gave your heart and soul to, and ultimately, all the mental and physical hardships that you had to push through. That takes spirit.

I also honor the spirit of yours for the struggles you overcame, that mostly went unnoticed. The spirit you were able to muster up to attend that class everyday that intimidated you to no end. I salute the dedication it took you to raise your hand and participate, even though it caused you to break into cold sweat every single time. I respect your spirit for trying new things, even though change terrified you. I am in awe of your spirit, you who worked hard to succeed in school hundreds of miles away from home. I honor you, who have tried to get through college while disasters, natural or otherwise, were plaguing your hometowns. Your unyielding spirit that made you get through your classes and the demanding nature of your work and extra­curriculars, while constantly worrying about the safety of your loved ones.  I honor you, not only for what you do, but what you do for others. I salute your spirit for being the inspiration, the drive, the support for someone else so that they too can excel. 

Personally, this spirit was shown to me by the women of Delta Delta Delta, the inspiring instrument of change, who have brought positivity to my life and made me realize the power of my potential. Thank you, for your spirit. I salute you who have stayed up late hours, studying in the libraries, various computer labs, Alumni Hall, the Gizmo, the waiting room outside the ladies' bathroom in Seymour, or that might have just been me. I honor the spirit of you who spent endless nights forsaking sleep, comforting friends and loved ones, going through trying times. And for those of you who stayed up late just to have a good time, well, I honor you still because I'm sure you needed the mental recess for your sanity. I especially salute the spirit of those of you who made it to classes post Flunk day. I respect your spirit for making it through multiple winter terms, the Knox plague and the stubborn spring allergies. They are not a joke. I personally don't remember what it feels like to breathe through both my nostrils anymore. That again, takes spirit. 

Our journeys are all incredibly different, but we are united with the knowledge and satisfaction that we have overcome the trials that Knox has put us through, only to emerge as wiser, stronger, individuals. Take a second for that to sink in. Give yourself a metaphorical pat on the back. Now give yourself a literal pat on the back. Don't be stingy in your pride and your exuberance today. Class of 2016, you deserve every smile that you smiled for every single drop of blood, sweat, and tears that you have shed on your way here. And this is just the beginning. So as we stand here today, on the threshold between here and the real world, I shall conclude by saying "congratulations" and with the wise words of Effie Trinket from the Hunger Games, "May the odds be ever in your favor." Thank you.

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Printed on Sunday, June 16, 2024