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Inspirational Class Address

May 11, 2016

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Inspirational Class Address

During Crandall’s 2016 Convocation ceremonies, Suyun Kang (Bachelor of Education) wrote the morning education graduand address (delivered by professor Mr. Andrew Hopper in Kang’s absence) and Hannah Steeves (Bachelor of Arts) shared her inspirational afternoon graduand address.

Ms. Hannah Steeves
DSC_0490Ms. Steeves is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree double majoring in Biblical Studies and English.  As well, she has completed the Youth Leadership Certificate, as part of which she interned for three years at The Journey Church in Moncton.  She has been involved in Crandall’s Student Ambassador team and the Crandall Student Association.  She has participated heavily in student life at Crandall while remaining dedicated to academics.  She plans to attend McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario in the fall of 2016 to pursue a Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry.

The Address:

“So, what do you want to do with your degree?”

When I first arrived at Crandall University four years ago, I was constantly asked this dreaded question. The truth is, between you and I, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my degree or afterwards at the time I was beginning my journey here at Crandall.

Maybe you are here today and your story is similar – you had no idea what you were doing when you got here.

Maybe your story is the exact opposite – you got here four years ago (maybe a bit earlier, maybe a bit later) and you had your plan for your degree drawn out in such detail you had your employment prospects lined up in grade school.

Regardless of whether or not you knew what you were going to do here at Crandall, you have made it here, to this point, and in front of the Chancellor, the President, members of the faculty and staff, family and friends, and fellow graduates of 2016 you are about to receive a fancy piece of paper called a degree that proves you did indeed do something – something very significant.

Yet, having been very involved at Crandall over the past four years I have come to realize that this institution is about so much more than completing and receiving a degree. It is what sets Crandall apart from many other institutions of higher education.

Crandall has not existed for us merely to answer the question “what do you want to do?” though certainly the incredible staff and faculty have pushed and challenged us academically, equipping us with the knowledge, skills, and preparation we need to be successful in whatever it is we choose to do after this.

(If you are here this afternoon and you have made it through a Reimer, Dempster, or Stackhouse course – and you’re still here – give yourself an extra pat on the back today.)

No – we do not leave just with a valuable academic experience based on a tradition of excellence to prepare us for what we will “do” in the future.

Crandall has always existed to answer an even more important question: “What kind of person do you want to be?”

And it is my privilege to represent the class of 2016 today at our convocation to remind us of what kind of people we are and to thank those who have helped us along the way.

First, we leave here not only as smarter, but as wiser people. It was the famous artist Da Vinci who poignantly pointed out that “wisdom is the daughter of experience.” If that is true, then the countless new experiences we have had here at Crandall must have made us wiser people.

Crandall has prepared us not just to “know stuff” but how to take that stuff and apply it in the real world.

For example, it takes a smart person to know when they are over their head and need to ask for help. But, it takes a wise person to know who to ask for the answers to all of life’s questions: and as people of wisdom we all know the person to ask is Janet Williston, because it has been my experience that she truly does know the answer to everything.

 A smart person knows that if they want to get something done, they should talk to Crystal Knowles – a wise person knows that if you must ask Crystal Knowles, but you should also bring chocolate, flowers, and your best and cutest smile.

We have not simply ingested facts or ideas robotically (though for many of us memorizing the order of all the books of the Old Testament may have been a bit of a stretch at times) – we have been challenged to wrestle with big ideas and complex realities.

We have been encouraged here to be people of discernment, of careful thought, deed and word.

We have had many late-night conversations (some over delicious late night breakfasts executed by the amazing Kathy Briggs and team) about the deeper layers of what it means to live and be human – and what it means to be a person of faith.

We have failed numerous times but have chosen to learn from our mistakes. For instance, we can all learn from what I would like to call the Law of the “Ted Newell Timing”: the night you choose to skip Worldview will be the night of the 5 minute essay. Without fail. Every time.

We have been encouraged to be ethical, to consider creative and inclusive solutions to problems.

We have Crandall to thank for making us wiser people. May we always be wise in our word, thought, and deed.

Secondly, we are stronger people.

It takes strength to work at a degree and be a good student, to perfect the ultimate shot in basketball, to volunteer, to be a good friend, to accept criticism. It takes strength to work part-time while being in school. It takes strength to complete a degree alongside of working and having a family. It takes strength to attend course after course, write research for paper after paper, and prepare for exam after exam for four years. It takes strength to keep going in spite of life circumstances.

It has not always been easy but we are here today because in our time here we have become strong people.

I believe largely by the grace of God and with the help of parents, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles, grandparents, professors, staff, employers, mentors, pastors, and friends, we have found the strength to preserve in the midst of life circumstances.

Continue to be people of strength.

Finally, we are people who have a greater capacity to do what matters most, and that is to love people. Yes, this is possible the most important quality we have developed while being here at Crandall.

Many of us here today have grown to love God with all our heart, our mind, and our strength, taking example from the amazing staff and faculty here as well as our own classmates.

Crandall is a place where professors take pity on clueless, helpless students like me when they are writing their first research paper. I can tell you from personal experience that Dr. Keith Bodner will actually walk you to the library to find the sources you are searching for but hopelessly cannot find for his paper – (and by the way it will turn out that he will point you to all the books you need – and every single one of them will be written by him). And you think, “Someone with two PhD’s does not have to do that,” but at Crandall the professors truly care about the students.

Crandall is a place where the admissions department treats you like family from day one and continues to love you, check up on you, and give you endless amounts of encouragement until your final exam. For many of us, Crandall has become a second home away from home because of how loved and welcomed we feel here.

Crandall is a place where even the coffee cup sleeves from the café send you loving messages.

I cannot thank many of you, my classmates, and good friends enough for teaching me what it means to sacrifice your own comfort for the sake of another.

Possibly the greatest sacrifice has been made by our parents and other family members – thank you for loving us through your constant support, encouragement, advice, and all the listening you have done.

Many of us have learned to a greater degree what it means to love sacrificially – to love people without expecting anything for ourselves in return.

We know the love that God has for us on a deeper level because of Crandall’s commitment to excellence rooted in Christian faith.

The world has enough legalism, enough people who are judgemental to a fault, and enough people who are thrilled by the chance to attack the opinions or ideas of another.

But we will be people of love and grace. Now more than ever, let us be people who do not fail to be critical of our world but continue to be people who choose to see others first through a lens of love.

We can be proud today of the degrees we are receiving, the skills we have learned, and the amount of preparation we have to go on and do whatever is next.

Much more than that, we can be proud of the kind of people we will be – the people we are becoming because of our time here at Crandall.

Because we have been here, there will be a little more wisdom, strength, and love out there. The world needs wise, strong, and loving people who will influence the direction of the future –and we are those people.

That is truly something to be thankful for and to celebrate.

—–
Ms. Suyun Kang
Ms. Kang is graduating with a Bachelor of Education.  Before her immigration to Moncton, she founded two schools in different towns of South Korea which became known for excellence.  A pleasant and dedicated student, she also excelled academically.  She has been employed as a supply teacher in the Anglophone East School District.  She is unable to attend today’s ceremony because her family is in the process of moving to Vancouver, British Columbia, where she plans to teach.

The Address:

Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, fellow graduates…I feel humble and greatly privileged to be delivering this graduation speech.  It is such a great honour to represent Education’s class of 2016 as the grad speaker.

Well, we did it!  We did it!  We did it!  We all accomplished another major milestone in our lives.  These have been rewarding and challenging years for all who have been completing the Education program at Crandall University.  For most of the Education grads, graduating as a teacher will mean starting a career that we have been working towards for many years.  For me, it has another meaning that I have successfully integrated into Canada with confidence not only as an Asian immigrant but also as a proud Canadian teacher.

I was a well-known English teacher in South Korea for ten years.  When I came to Moncton, however, I realized that almost everyone in Moncton could speak English much better than I could, which meant that I had to find a new career.  I tried different jobs to support my family.  Nothing could pump up my heart so I made a huge decision to join the Education program at Crandall University.  As a middle-aged mom, however, I did not believe that I could become a teacher because I had forgotten that dreams come true only if I believed I could do it.  In addition, there were so many moments when I was tempted to give up my education with great excuses such as “I am a mom of two handful boys,” but thanks to the people at Crandall University now I can be called Mrs. Kang as a teacher.  Whenever I listen to the song O Canada at school, which means the beginning of a day for teachers and which also makes my heart beat so loudly, I am assured that my decision was right.  I have become a qualified teacher without being discouraged by adversity.

Thanks to our friends

Through our time at Crandall University we have made lifelong friends with people who have supported and inspired us to grow and to succeed.  Many of whom will continue to be an important part of our lives for years to come.  I would personally like to thank the amazing friends that I have made throughout my journey.  It has been a pleasure to study with so many passionate people who have heart to cry and to stand up for children.  Hopefully the summer holidays will provide each of us with the time to reflect upon these meaningful memories and the valuable skills and assets that we have collected at Crandall University that we will all need to succeed in our first year as qualified teachers.  Please remember that we are always available to support each other no matter what, where, or when.

Thanks to our wonderful professors

You have shown us what great teaching is.  You will be remembered in our hearts whenever we are confused or feel lost.  Thank you for your sense of humour, your creativity, your high standards, your teaching experiences, and for your grace when we needed it.  Thank you for being warm demanders and for showing us that being an educator isn’t just a job – it’s a gift.  To be honest with you, I sometimes doubted when you emphasized that Crandall was one of the most respected teacher preparation programs in Eastern Canada – not only in our district but also other places in the world.  Now I have worked in many different schools and have seen the outstanding teachers who have graduated from Crandall, and I have heard their reputation, which is even better than you have mentioned.  Thanks to you, we have felt Crandall as home; moreover, we will meet other Crandall graduates as family in our futures.

Thanks to our so special dedicated staff

Some of you probably remembered me as a wandering student who often asked some obvious questions which others would know the answers to as common sense.  At Crandall, not even one person made me feel embarrassed or ignored.  I was the only one heading home saying that I shouldn’t have asked or acted that weird way.  You were always there for us and offered kind help saying, “No worries, we can help.”  Your kind offers made our school lives a lot easier and relieved.  Thanks to you, we can do it!

Our futures may not be as bright as we wish when we become teachers, but I strongly believe that our hearts will be fulfilled with love.  Therefore, I would like to wish each person in this room good luck for the year ahead and to remind you all that, despite the challenges we will all face, we haven’t made it this far by fluke.  We have each earned our place in the teaching world.  Again, thanks to all the friends, professors, and staff; my world has been changed because you.  We as teachers, therefore, may not be able to change the whole world, but we can definitely change the world of our students.

Congratulations on hitting this significant milestone, and be brave in the teaching profession!  Thank you.

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