On behalf of the entire Born This Way Foundation, I want to say congratulations. As a member of the Graduating Class of 2020, myself, I know the road to graduation can be filled with triumph, hardship, and a whole lot of hard work and fun. And while the current situation is preventing us from participating in face-to-face ceremonies, I hope you all take more than a moment to celebrate your accomplishments. Every test you took, every late night you endured, and every event you attended deserves to be honored. Dance with your family. Party on Zoom with your friends. And most importantly, take the time to pat yourself on the back—this is a big deal. One way I like to do this is by thinking of the person I was when I started school. What would he think of this accomplishment? I invite you to get in contact with that younger version of yourself, too. Was that person scared to start school? Were they excited? Whatever your situation was, I bet that younger version of yourself is pretty proud right now.
Graduation might seem like the end of a good thing, but I would encourage you to view it as the beginning of something greater. After all, when one door closes, another one opens. Four years ago, I couldn’t picture a life outside of high school. Now, I know that experience builds on itself. Wherever you go, you will make new friends. You will have new challenges, and you will celebrate new accomplishments. Still, your past will always be there for you; it is as simple as texting an old friend. As cliché as it may sound, this is not a goodbye if you don’t want it to be. And while I bring this up to reassure those who might be scared they won’t see their friends from school again, I also think it’s important to say for the reason that a fear of losing the past should never hold us back from the joys that lie ahead of us. This is one of the most important lessons I have learned in the last four years, and it is something I have to continue to remind myself as I take my first steps post-grad.
The future may seem scary, but it might also be the next exciting present. I am excited for you—for us. To a lifetime of blessings and success, I lift up the Graduating Class of 2020.
Nick Gervasi, Loyola University Maryland ‘20