The AUBG Class of 1998 student commencement speaker was Stefka Meletieva from Bulgaria. Read below her speech:
University graduation is a special moment in every person’s life. Metaphorically speaking, it represents a threshold that you cross to enter adulthood. Therefore, it is also a moment of mixed feelings: happiness and satisfaction of the achievement and uncertainty and fear of the future. Today we are leaving the place that for four years was our home and the only thing that we can take with us is the diploma. Therefore, it is important to understand what stands behind it.
What is it that we are actually taking? I believe that this diploma represents two precious things. The first one is knowledge. Four years ago we came here from different educational and cultural backgrounds. Attracted by the adventurous spirit of this liberal arts institution, we wanted to be educated in a different and unusual way.
Here, at AUBG, we specialized in our field of study, but, we also crossed out of it and learned that the graph of a normal distribution is a bell-shaped curve that extends infinitely in both directions and that all musical tone consists of 4 properties: pitch, duration, intensity, and quality. Today we all know these very useful facts, but we also remember the most important lesson that we had: learning is an endless process that depends on constant hard work. Along with knowledge, we are taking another thing with us today that is equally important. This diploma also represents the friends that we have made over these four years and all that they gave to us. Each one of us learned from our college’s things that are not explained in the textbooks. Thanks to them we understood that patience is the ability to sleep well while there is a noisy party in the lobby and that tolerance is the enjoyment that both the Bulgarian and the Russian-speaking communities experienced while they peacefully watched the football game between Bulgaria and Russia last September. These were difficult subjects but we got A’s because our friends proved to be good teachers.
Each one of us came here wanting to present ourselves and one’s country in the most favorable way. We wanted to stand out among our peers but quickly understood how difficult this was. Regardless of how hard we tried, there was always somebody else to solve all extra-credit questions correctly and to get the highest grade. Nevertheless, the competition among us revealed our own strength and ambition. Thanks to our friends we were able to find our real selves and to discover that every once in a while we could do the extra-credit questions as well!
Today each one of us is actually taking two things represented by this diploma – knowledge and friends, but these are not separate issues. The truth is that we are taking the diploma very much because of our friends, because of their support and understanding. We are leaving this place today, each one of us heading in a different direction. Therefore this is the moment to appreciate how much we owe to each other. This is the moment to thank our friends for all that they taught us, for showing us how to recover our lost files during the endless nights in the computer labs, for sharing with us the latest gossips at lunch and dinner in the canteen, for celebrating with us every Thursday in Graffiti. This is the moment to thank our friends for all that we are and all that we will become! Our friends will not be right next to us tomorrow, but, they will not leave us. They will be out there always ready to help and encourage us as they did during these four years.
In a moment we will come on stage to take our diploma. Remember, it gives us much more than knowledge and a successful start in adulthood, it also represents our friends and happy memories. Treasure them and be confident and optimistic about the future!
We are going out there together!