Student Commencement speakers challenge, celebrate
By Katie EllisTwo very different student speakers addressed fellow graduates at Fall Commencement on Dec. 13: Ida Amelia Jones, newly minted with a doctoral degree in translation studies, and Anthony Corvino, a political science major who loves comedy and performance.
Jones (pictured) breathed a sigh of relief “to really savor the moment” as she began her remarks. “Despite the excitement, the distractions, the uproar in the world around us, despite the personal turmoil in our lives, somehow, we have managed to do what at times may have seemed nigh impossible,” she said. “But now the fun begins. … Ask yourself: How can I serve? What can I do to help? It does not have to be a grand gesture; not a first. And it may only impact the person next to you. But whatever you do, pay it forward….”
Corvino, who said he was chosen to speak on behalf of the undergraduate students because he represented the “average” student, kept the audience laughing throughout his remarks — with messages of thanks thrown in.
“Maybe average is the new exceptional,” he said. “Our time has come. For too long our voices, the voices of the average, have been drowned out in a sea of unique individuals and overly exceptional people.
“I am sorry to say average will never be fame, or fortune or the American Dream. Average is something much more. Average is the parent who drives their son or daughter to school every day so their child may have a better life than the one they had. Average is the professor who helps you understand that knowing who you are and owning your own sense of identity will make you a stronger individual not only here but more importantly, in life.”
Corvino also reminded fellow students that “average is knowing that you don’t receive respect, you earn it. And you aren’t given opportunity, you fight for it. And if anyone tries to tell you different, they’re lying. Average is amazing.
“The point is, we all came to Binghamton University knowing little of what we would become, or what we would accomplish, but we will leave knowing who we are. And that is a gift to be treasured and remembered.”
See photos from Commencement at the Alumni Association's photo sharing site. Watch speeches and other videos from Commencement at the University's site on YouTube.