Friday, June 1, 2012

Olivia SzetoConvocation is a time of reflection, a time of joy, and a time of hope. It brings together graduating students who share the same will to succeed and the drive to accomplish their goals. In mid-June, the School of Accounting and Finance and the Faculty of Arts, recognized each of these students as they proudly accepted their well-deserved degrees. Among the graduates were Olivia Szeto (Bachelor of Accounting and Financial Management (BAFM) ‘12) who won the Alumni Gold Metal for the Faculty of Arts and Mandy Mandy ChengCheng (BAFM '12) who earned the School's Departmental Award.

Last year marked the first Accounting and Financial Management (AFM) student Valedictorian, Kieng Iv (BAFM ‘11). In honour of those who graduated this spring, we look back on the words that have become affectionately knows as "The Kieng's Speech".

Kieng Iv’s Valedictorian Speech – Convocation June 2011

Good morning everyone.

Firstly, I would like to thank family and friends that have come from far and wide to attend this celebration, and for those who could not attend but are here with us in spirit. When times were tough, assignments and essays were a long all-nighter away and it seemed like midterm season was longer than a Canadian winter, you never stopped pushing us forward and encouraging us to do our best. So on behalf of the graduating class, thank you.

I would also like to thank our distinguished faculty and unparalleled staff members who have taken time from their busy schedules to rejoice in these proud moments with us.

Lastly, but most importantly, I would like to congratulate the graduating class of 2011. 3, 4, 5, 6, and for some 7 years ago we embarked on a journey here at the University of Waterloo. We have come from many places, have lived through many amazing experiences and have continually improved ourselves. But today, we can feel assured that we have left this university better and more knowledgeable individuals than (we were) when we arrived many years ago. Congratulations! 

Today, I would like to leave a brief but memorable message for all those in attendance. It is often argued whether life is about the journey, or whether life is about the destination. As arts students are known for their innovation and love of debating, I would like to argue that life is about leaving your own legacy. As many of you have experienced, our time here at the University of Waterloo has flown by faster than we could have ever expected and recently speaking to my  favourite librarian in my hometown who is retiring later this year, I expect the rest of our lives to fly by just as fast.

What is a legacy and why is it important? A legacy is not about changing the world but changing your world.  It is about understanding the impact that we can have on the people around us through achieving our goals and doing our very best. Our paths after today will be as diverse as the paths that have led us here. Some of us will change the political world, make breakthroughs in the financial markets, inspire others through works of art or teach the generation of tomorrow to be better and more knowledgeable than we are today. Whatever path you choose, do your best and understand the impact you can have on those around you. As time passes, people will perhaps forget your name, they may forget the things that you have done but they will never forget, I repeat, never forget the way you made them feel and the impact you had made.

Next, I will discuss how to leave a legacy. Step one is defining your passion. What wakes you up in the morning, what is always on your mind, and what do you dream about. As arts students we each choose a major that we are passionate about and it is time to take that passion to our post university of waterloo lives.  A German philosopher Hegel once said that “nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” Passion is an important step but only the first step. The next step is to work hard. It is said that you should chase your dreams but I believe that you should work so hard that your dreams are actually chasing you. Be proud of what you have accomplished but be more proud of what you will accomplish. I want everyone to reflect back for a moment to their first year experience. Don’t worry you don’t have to write an AFM reflection on this! I remember my first time being on campus alone and it resulted in me walking around ring road for two hours looking for my residence. Who knew that walking ring road for a certain amount of time would bring you back to where you started. Do you remember being scared and uncertain? I remember being uncertain if I could fit in and whether I would make any friends. I remember being scared of not being smart enough. I remember being uncertain if this was the right place for me. I remember being scared that this day would never come. But with every accomplishment, we became more confident and eventually, those accomplishments became expectations and we conquered bigger and better challenges and the cycle repeated. One day, we will look back on this day and not see it as the proudest day of our lives but as a stepping stone that led us to all the great things we have accomplished. The last step is to have fun. Whatever path you choose; walk it proudly. Whatever career you choose; enjoy it as much as you can. Having fun will lead you to the most success and allow you to leave a legacy that others will be proud to follow.


I wrote a short poem to close off this speech.

We told ourselves whenever we were faced with a challenge that the end was near
Study away, study hard, read every page and word and you’ll have no fear
For every test we wrote, every paper we typed, was a step in the right direction
Not wanting to lose a single point, we always aimed for the most infamous mark, perfection
As we leave today, I challenge each and every one of you to never settle with now
Wake up each morning, working towards your goals and have people ask how
How do you do the things that you do
I have never meant someone quite like you
And respond with, that I work hard and have my dreams chase me
Passions drive your actions and that is how you leave a legacy

Thank you and congratulations class of 2011!