Where am I?

Undergraduate Student Speech

May 2012 Undergraduate Student Speaker, Monica Kleekamp

Good morning and welcome, President Golden, the Trustees and Regents, faculty and staff, our guest speaker, Dr. Patricia Wolff, my fellow graduates and all of the guests here to celebrate with us. I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to speak to you today.

When I called my dad to tell him that I was a nominee to speak at commencement, his reply to me was, “Well, does speaking at graduation make you feel like Elle Woods from Legally Blonde?” Dads are funny like that. My response was a chuckle, but little did he know he already had my wheels turning. So, in his honor today, I have printed my speech on pink paper. I refrained from spraying it with perfume or covering it in glitter, but just the same, this is for you Mom and Dad.

We are here today, not to celebrate the end of a journey, but the beginning of a new one. Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, traditional or nontraditional, female or male, we have gathered in this space to commend one another for this tremendous accomplishment. Some here today may have future educational endeavors ahead. Others are ready to step out into the working world with a shiny new degree. And there are a number present who have enhanced their professional positions by completing their degrees. Where ever you fit in the endless possibilities that are present in this room, I’d like to remind you of something. Adlin Sinclair said, “You are the embodiment of the information you choose to accept and act upon.” Today, everyone will leave here with a diploma and a wealth of knowledge. Tomorrow, and every day after, you decide what to do with it. Our professors have equipped us with the skills we need to make a difference in our respective fields. Now, it is our turn to put that wisdom into practice.

When I began here at Fontbonne, one of the first speeches I heard as a member of the student body came from a towering figure with a knack for radiating wisdom. This former NFL football star and marine started me on the right foot with his profound words. I will not try to tackle his subtle New York dialect, but as many of you have heard before, he said that Fontbonne University’s goal is for students to learn more and to be more. It does not say “Learn more. Do more.” Or “Learn more. Earn more.” Fontbonne has challenged us to simply be more.

For the guests here today, who may not know to whom I am referring, I am speaking of our President, Dr. Dennis Golden. Throughout my time here at Fontbonne, I have watched Dr. Golden with admiration and awe. I have always wanted to be a leader, and I have always wondered what success looks like. If I had to show you a picture of it, it would be the face of Dr. Golden. I’d like to share a quote with you so you know what I mean when I say the word “success.” Herman Cain said, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” If you watch Dr. Golden in action, you will see how much he enjoys his work. He has achieved success from the simple joy he has in serving others. If you ask him what his job is at Fontbonne, he will tell you, “I work for everyone else.” My response to a question like that would probably be a little different. I would favor answers such as, “I run this place,” or, “People sit up straight when I walk in.” This is not so for Dr. Golden. He operates as the President of this great university with humility and selflessness and that kind of persona is what I aspire to embody in my own career. Somewhere in each of our college careers, we chose a major. Maybe it was at the beginning, or in the middle, or maybe you had a number of different majors. But today you graduate with a degree in what has the ability to make you happy and successful.

Finally, when I began studying at Fontbonne, I dreamed of this day. Of the day that each of our names would be called, and we would receive the piece of paper that says, “You did it!” Today is the culmination of all those nights of studying, hours of work, and endless papers. Still, the dream continues. Don’t stop now.

I would like to share with you a few lines from one of my favorite songs, Dream Big by Ryan Shupe and the RubberBand to encourage you to keep on dreaming.

When you laugh be sure to laugh out loud
'Cause it will carry all your cares away
And when you see, see the beauty all around and in yourself

It'll help you feel okay
And when you pray, pray for strength
To help you carry on
When the troubles come your way

And when you dream, dream big
As big as the ocean blue
'Cause when you dream it might come true
So when you dream, dream big


Congratulations Fontbonne University Class of 2012!

Thank you.