Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Moving with Soul- Commencement Speech for Springfield College Boston Campus

Greetings familia,

When I received the call from Dr. Ulric Johnson, Asst. Dean of Springfield College Boston Campus, I was blown away by the invitation to be their 2011 Graduation Commencement Speaker.

When we met in person and walked around the Campus I knew this will be a memorable gift and it was the right place for me to say, this was my first commencement address.

With everything I was seeing, hearing and feeling, I wanted to share something uplifting, yet real. It was an opportunity to think out loud with the energy of renewed thoughts, hope and love.

In keeping the tradition of growing with you, I share with you part of my Commencement Speech for the 2011 Graduates of Springfield College Boston Campus.

Moving with Soul

Good Evening, Buenas Tardes, Greetings Dean Robert Willey, Assistant Dean Ulric Johnson, (Brother with a true Caribbean spirit), faculty, students, special guest, family and friends. I stand with you with the humble spirit of the ancestors who guide my dear mother whose spirit hugs me today. Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Transformation is defined by the shedding of the old and the welcoming and embracing of the new.

One of nature’s most beautiful visuals of transformation is that of a Butterfly or as I like to call it, the Soul Bird.

The butterfly, moves with grace, brightness and lightness. It lifts your spirit at the very first site of it. It is a symbol of new life, of wisdom and knowledge.

Today you begin your transformation from the woman on a search to a woman who stands firm with the clarity of who she is and where she is going. From the man who is labeled to the man who appreciates and embraces the uniqueness he brings to life, to the Immigrant who chased a dream with determination and convictions to succeed to the Immigrant who walks with home in the heart and stands and screams, Si Se Puede!!

The journey will not be easy but it will be up to you to trust parts of you. Reach for those parts of you that will take every stop on the road as lessons learned. Because you fought so hard to get here, it will be that pain that you will most recognize. But your eyes are now wide open and your wings will hold those you care for unconditionally and that pain, you will name, recognize and move past it as you grow.

Be courageous, allow your journey to be yours, fit for you with the light of your ancestors guiding you.

Move with love, love of self, love for those before you and love for those who will challenge you because with that challenge you will learn something of value, Patience.

I read this quote every morning, by Audrey Lorde,” When I Dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am Afraid.”

Dare to be that teacher that adds more to the history books, teaches the real story, engage in the real conversation. Allow your students to see themselves in the makeup/development of the Americas.

Be that clinician that allows that family to be an expert of their life and outcome. Treat them with kindness and respect and know that you will also learn something from them.

Walk away today with that degree in your hands but also embrace and honor your life experiences because there will be moments when that experience will be the strongest connection to community. There will be moments when you will need to move beyond the books to see, to listen and to learn.

Be grounded in goodness so that when you pause to share your words, it will have a lasting impact on the heart.

We are living in times were our search for justice and truth should lead our purpose, let today be the day that you stand on the side of truth.

Pause; be careful to not celebrate injustice, for injustice in one community is injustice to all. It will never be and should never be the only response to pain.
Truth will open the door to the healing of our communities. With truth, we see our commonalities and move beyond our differences. Truth takes us below the surface; it takes us to our root.

Today is an extra special day, it is mother’s day. We celebrate all the mothers in the space. You are the nurtures of our families. A mother is a teacher, counselor, cheerleader, confidant, and mentor. Hold all of it as you move today, for that is something that can never be taken from you.

It is also a special day for the fathers who walk next to these loving mothers. Look to them and say thank you, I love you for you. Our conversation needs to carry a tone that says, I appreciate you for the Queen that you are.

There is a Yoruba/African verse that speaks to the importance of this unity and the inclusion of a woman’s voice. When the male Orishas came to Earth, things were not coming together. They went back to ask what was missing. Olodumare asked, did you invite the woman/Oshun? They said no. He told them they needed to invite her to be successful, that without women and children things would not go well. They did and things went well. It speaks to having a woman’s touch. Sweetness can bring love and success, to everything we do.

Unity and acceptance have to be part of your transformation. I have been thinking a lot about Malcolm X. The truth he walked with is what I think we are missing today. One of his quotes stands out as I share this space with you today. It speaks to acceptance. “We cannot think of being acceptable to others until first proven acceptable to ourselves.”

Be clear on who you are, embrace your full self. That will bring freedom of the mind, a freer hand to write your story, free words that move without fear and in peace.

At this point I moved the energy of the space. I spoke in Spanish to the Latino students. I then also addressed all the students of color and spoke of unity between Latinos and African Americans.

Why a Soulbird? A Soulbird moves with the intention to search for the better self, a better world. As you begin this new chapter in your life, move with the intention of making every space you enter a space filled with hope and most important, love.

India Arie the singer poet shares,” It’s not what you do, but Why you do what you do. A Soulbird lives with the intention of growing, rising up and elevating, because we know that, like Ghandi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Let’s spread the wings of our souls and elevate.”

Your wings are wide open. They are open and filled with new ideas, a new approach, and new definitions. Your transformation into that bright, free flowing butterfly, SOULBIRD, will elevate you to the person that our community will support.

Congratulations to each and every one of you. Congratulations to those who supported and encouraged your journey. Congratulations to those who presented another perspective and allowed you to think outside of the box.

Fly with purpose, land with strength and move with love.

Peace and Blessings

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