Margaux Deverin Delivers 2014 Senior Address
Deverin: "Don’t be afraid to be adventurous. Explore."
Margaux Grace Deverin, a recent graduate of Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences delivered the senior address at the 2014 Convocation. An English and textual studies major in Arts and Sciences and an education major in the School of Education, Deverin was also one of three college marshals. She was selected as the senior speaker by her fellow students. Below is a transcript of her remarks.
Good morning everyone. I’d like to thank The College of Arts and Sciences, Dean Langford, and expressly all of you for the honor of allowing me to represent our College, and the graduating Class of 2014 at this momentous occasion. As soon to be graduates, I think I can speak for all of us when I say we are so grateful to be surrounded by the people who were instrumental in helping us achieve this moment: Our devoted families, who couldn’t have known what they were getting themselves into this long weekend, Arts and Sciences faculty and staff and distinguished guests, and finally our friends and peers—I welcome all of you in attendance this morning, and I cannot believe we’re actually here.
Recently, as I thought about the kinds of things I could say to the graduating Arts and Sciences student body, I realized how incredibly diverse an audience I was working with. As the largest college on campus with more than fifty majors and minors, Arts and Sciences is a true representation of the University’s finest interdisciplinary learners, researchers, scientists, teachers, policy shapers and liberal arts enthusiasts--- bound to take the world by storm upon receiving their diploma. Our future careers cannot be categorized or given a broad label, and our lives from this moment are spring-loaded with potential. A degree from Arts and Sciences can do that to you. Herein lies my dilemma.
How can I, an English major with a dual in Education, provide some form of universal truth that resonates with each of you individually---a myriad of activists, artists and innovators--- each with you own set of talents. The more I thought about what I could say—the more I felt it impossible. Yet, when I student taught, I had to find a way to overcome the impossible every day in the classroom. I’ll give it my best shot.
As graduates about to venture out into the vast world of adulthood, we have a tendency to try and mold ourselves into the perfect candidates for a job. We might brush up on our interview skills, pick out a suit set that says, "I care, but I'm not trying too hard," or we'll reformat our resumes to put the most impressive stuff first. After all, we need to act the part to get the job, right? Surely, these credentials are the reason we went to college in the first place.
Almost four years ago, I became an English major because I love books---especially fiction. Fantasy worlds and fairytales and love stories that allowed me to escape from reality—even if only for a little while.
You see, when I was in grade school, I loved Peter Pan. You might be familiar with J.M. Barrie’s novel turned film and musical. Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up, came to the Darling children’s bedroom window and taught Wendy, George and Michael that if they truly believed (and with the help of a little pixie dust) they could fly to Neverland and be young forever. They could seek adventure, explore, and live truly magical lives.
For kid me, this was obviously the dream, and I made sure to tell my parents not to expect much from me because I had absolutely no interest in growing up and having responsibilities. After this revelation, and plenty of wandering through the woods with my brother and a few big sticks so we could pretend to be lost boys---somebody told me how the story ends---Wendy decides to leave Neverland--- to return home and live out her life.
Despite my disappointment as a young Lost Boy, here is where fiction and reality intertwine. As soon to be graduates of The College of Arts and Sciences—we’re all a little like Wendy. Stuck between the self-discovery, electricity and magic of college and the responsibility of adulthood---fear of the unknown sets in when we think about what we’re expected to accomplish, what goals we should have for ourselves and how we’ll put our education to good use.
A few months or maybe even weeks from now, you’re sitting across from someone at an interview for your dream job at the mayor’s office, or a research facility, or a clinic, or maybe like me—an awesome high school with a drama department in desperate need of my choreography. And you’re hoping no one notices you forgot to iron your pants and you’re wondering if you smell okay because you’re sweating—As you try to appear calm and collected, the interviewer asks you, “So…Why SU?” “Why The College of Arts and Sciences?”
You’ll likely smile, and struggle for the words that could adequately summarize why SU made all the difference for you as a learner, a thinker, and an individual who was made for this line of work. Why The College of Arts and Sciences---with your advisor’s guidance and your professors’ enthusiasm ---motivated you to consistently challenge yourself---no matter how late you worked in the library or how much of your diet consisted of coffee. How through The College, you took courses in multiple divisions just because they intrigued you, and how once you found that subject that spoke to you—that was it. You were smitten.
Maybe you didn’t start out that way. But college, just like real life, is an adventure. And fiction, just like real life, reminds us to think creatively, to use our imaginations, to be spontaneous, and instead of nicely assimilating to the world we think we know, to innovate, re-create, and to be fiercely ourselves---because as Oscar Wilde once said, “Everyone else is already taken.”
When you pack up your dorm or your apartment this weekend, be sure to take a moment and think about how your contribution to the Syracuse community, the state of New York, the entire nation and even other nations can spark change and spread like wildfire because of who you are, the people you’ve met, and what you’ve learned here.
Because we all know all children, except one, grow up. Yet as graduates of The College of Arts and Sciences, growing up shouldn’t involve leaving the magic behind.
So my advice to you, Class of 2014, is to take the magic you found in The College and share it---spread it around. Make sure it’s sprinkled like fairy dust into everything you do. If you’re successful, you’ll know it, because J.M. Barrie told us: “Those who bring sunshine to others cannot keep it from themselves.”
You earned a specific degree, but your Liberal Arts education provided something more. Don’t be afraid to be adventurous. Explore. Your final lesson at SU will not be your last lesson, and it isn’t intended to be. If you let it---the magic stays with you, inspires you, and propels you forward.
Whether the destination is your dream career, or the second star to the right
Thank you and congratulations.