The staff at Nancy’s office were planning an article about her visit to her alma mater, Ohio University and the commencement speech she delivered to an enthusiastic 2012 graduating class. And lest we forget, Nancy, now known as Dr. Cartwright, received an honorary degree as Doctor of Communications!
But then we received what follows below. It was written by Jarad Barr, also a graduate of OU, who was present for the occasion of his brother’s degree convocation. Jarad spoke so well of his experience and of the effect that Nancy had on the students, graduates, faculty and families at the ceremonies, that we asked for and received permission to use his words here.
A return visit to any place you formerly called, “home” is awkward. You realize how much has changed yet remained the same. The houses seem familiar but the faces are foreign. Athens, Ohio much like all college campuses around the world is a revolving door. Our time on campus gives us a sense of entitlement. We feel as if we run the campus. There aren’t many occasions we think of the past or the future students. It isn’t until you return that you realize the campus will continue to thrive after your departure.
Graduation is a completely new experience when you are not wearing a cap and gown. The names that are called are unknown. The commencement speech isn’t directed towards you. The multiple rounds of applause are not to congratulate your accomplishments. You are now the support. You are now contemplating your past rather than your future.
As I sat in the Convocation Center I reflected on the past year wondering if those graduates in their cap and gowns were as hungry as myself. They have replaced my graduating class and now have the chip on their shoulders to succeed. It is their turn to take their first step in the real world while using everything they have previously learned as a resource to achieve their goals. As incoming freshmen, they were promised the world. As anxious soon-to-be college graduates, they are congratulated for their achievements and celebrated by their friends, family, and only in Athens, OH… Bart Simpson.
The Ohio University graduating class of 2012 had the pleasure to be addressed by Ohio Alum, Nancy Cartwright, an Emmy award-winning actress and voice of television superstar Bart Simpson. Although her words were primarily intended to inspire and motivate the students, I still felt as if I was the only person in the building. Unlike the commencement speaker from a year ago, I related to the words spoken by Cartwright. Throughout her entertaining address, she challenged graduates to:
- Do what you love.
- Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your dreams.
- Hitch your wagon to a winner.
- Trust your instincts.
- Decide exactly what you want to do.
All encouraging bits of advice as I continue to pursue my personal dreams. I am confident saying I have accomplished 4 of the 5 while actively attempting to fulfill the uncompleted challenge. Where I grew up people constantly mock dreams and ambitions that seem “unrealistic” or “unattainable”. Or in my eyes, challenging. Even today, as a 24 year old I come across individuals who talk behind my back and can’t understand why I want to achieve certain goals. These same people are those who don’t understand because they have either already given up on theirs or never fully set goals for themselves.
“Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your dreams” — By far the most important piece of advice. You will constantly be put in a situation where you must defend your dreams. But it is necessary to have a comfort zone when with friends to let that guard down and relax. I believe it is important to have so called “haters”. They can certainly turn into your greatest motivators as long as they aren’t the people who call themselves your friend. These are the “friends” who will want nothing to do with your struggles but will have their hands out during your success.
It has been a pleasure of mine to continue to feel blessed for my inner circle of friends and family. They seem to always know the right things to say to either spark an internal fire or take me down a few notches. Without them I still believe I would be where I am today but it sure would have made this road more challenging. We are all significantly different with our career goals and ambitions yet we continue to find common ground to show our support of one another.
One of the hardest realizations for myself was to understand everybody lives life at their own pace. You can’t expect to speed them up or slow them down. You can only hope to surround yourself with people who can keep up and the few who will push you to go faster. These are the people who will motivate you on a daily basis. These are the people who can only elevate you.
It was an awkward experience; celebrating my one year graduation anniversary at the same place I graduated. And when I say awkward I mean amazing. Watching my brother walk across the same stage while listening to my mother’s whistle and my father’s clapping. It will forever be a memory I hold close to my heart. Closer than my own graduation. It was everything I needed a year after my departure.
And who knew a 10 year old animated boy could provide it for me. Thank you Nancy and congratulations to all 2012 Graduates.