2013 Doctoral Convocation - Carly Rose Lachala, Student Speaker

Hello everyone and welcome! Let me begin by saying how honored I am to be speaking to such a distinguished audience of Provost McLaughlin, Dean Brabeck, faculty, honored guests, fellow graduates, families and friends. As I was trying to decide my focus for this speech, I knew I wanted to provide you all with some words of wisdom. However, the older I get, the more I realize how much more I have to learn. In the words of a dear professor, “the more I know, the more I know I don’t know.”

In the practice of physical therapy, information gathered through observation is a cornerstone in patient care. The power of observation can be generalized to everyday life; you would be surprised the wisdom and insight that will cross your path, often from unexpected places. I fancy myself a shrewd observer, and I present to you today the best words of wisdom that I have come across lately.

The first pearl of wisdom comes from a classmate of mine, Dave Lui. Dave’s message to us on the last day of finals was to appreciate the people who have supported us throughout our journeys because “you must have strong roots before you can grow branches.” I thought about this phrase, which appealed to me, partly because of the message, and partly because I am from rural Maine and thus appreciate tree-related metaphors. Now let’s break this metaphor down since its got a very literal underpinning.  First the roots: We all have roots of some kind, whether it be our parents, significant others, brothers and sisters, friends, professors, or classmates. Without them, we would not have been able to grow and achieve the goals we set for ourselves. In the course of my 3 years here at NYU, I have had a wonderful support system that encouraged me to reach for my aspirations and guide me toward success. Strong, stable roots have allowed us to extend our branches, or effort, toward the loftiest of goals. We are being recognized for the fruit of our labor today, but let us not forget to thank those who have helped us along in our journeys.

The second pearl of wisdom comes from my 18-year-old sister. She recently faced some personal hardship, when as the top student in her class, she was either rejected or waitlisted by every single college to which she applied. After coming to terms with her situation, she presented the following affirmation as a Facebook status. “There is no expiration date on dreams” it read; surprisingly insightful for something gleaned from a Facebook newsfeed. My sister’s affirmation is no doubt inspired by my mom, who graduated with her master’s degree the same year I graduated from college, because she had put her career dreams on hold to raise her 3 children. Some of us came directly to grad school after finishing our undergraduate degrees, whereas others, like my mom, took the more “scenic route”. My point is though we have followed separate timelines to get here today, we all have arrived at the very same destination. Whether achieving your degree took you 3 years, 13 years or 30 years, you should be proud for chasing your dream and accomplishing what you set out to do.

Throughout the course of our educations here at NYU, we have been tested by exams, written term papers, and defended dissertations to prove what we know. However, the most powerful aspect of education is that it prepares us for the unknown, and allows us to rise up to meet challenges we would have never expected. This brings me to my third and final pearl of wisdom, which I absorbed last week while watching my younger brother graduate from Northeastern. The commencement speaker encouraged the graduates to take risks and challenge themselves throughout the course of life. “Ships are safe in the harbor,” he said, “but that’s not what ships were built for.” I fundamentally agree with this metaphor; it is so easy to stick to the safe and certain routes in life, but it is through challenging ourselves and facing the uncertain that inspires personal growth and change. Our NYU education has prepared us to venture forth, out of the harbor, to meet the challenges and opportunities the future has in store.

In closing, I hope these quotes, which have impacted me, will leave you too with something to think about. Remember: appreciate your roots, chase your dreams, and challenge yourselves, and you will always be successful. Please accept my sincere congratulations to all my fellow graduates, and thank you to everyone who helped us along the way. I wish you all the very best.