May 16, 2024

Class oration: Avery Budnik ’24

Avery Eleanor Budnik ’24
Student oration
Academic Awards Ceremony
May 18, 2024

Good morning. Welcome friends, family, faculty, and staff, and most importantly, the Class of 2024.

For those of you who know me personally, you know how super excited I was about the prospect of speaking in front of this many people today. So thank you, everyone, for showing up!

In all seriousness, the number of people in this room can only be equated to the amount of love and support we feel as the graduating class, and I am grateful for this opportunity to thank you all.

Firstly, thank you to the faculty and staff members who facilitate our learning. As an education major, I have become even more appreciative of your hard work and selflessness as I have engaged more with the profession.

I especially want to thank my advisors here at PC, Dr. Anthony Rodriguez and Molly McKeon, and my mentors at Pleasant View Elementary School. They never let me believe there was anything I could not accomplish, which is exactly what good teachers do.

To the families and supportive friends, we the graduates are privileged enough to be sitting here today because of you. Your sacrifices and encouragement cannot be understated, even if they are not always recognized or appreciated. From coordinating the logistics of even getting us to campus, to answering phone calls at all hours of the day and night, thank you for being here today as a final show of support in our educational journeys.

I also want to take a quick moment to especially thank my own family, without whom I would not be here today.

To my sister, Jae, for skipping her entire first day of second grade to stay with me during my first day of kindergarten when I didn’t want to go. You started it all for me and have always been my greatest protector.

To my brother, Will, for being the ultimate inspiration behind my passion for teaching and my best friend. I’m so grateful for our year here together and look forward to a lifetime with you as Friar family members.

Thank you to my dad for the much needed and frequent comedic relief, and for reminding me that learning is a lifelong process.

And finally, to my mom, who is truly the smartest and most hardworking person I know. There are not enough words in the English language to sufficiently convey my gratitude for you.

While there are countless others I would like to address personally, I’m going to follow the advice of the numerous YouTube videos I watched in preparation for today and refocus my attention on our class.

I am sure many of us can testify that we have been asked this question more in the last few months than we have in our entire lives — “What do you want to do?” And I’m sure for many of us, answering that question was much easier 15 years ago than it is today.

As a child, everything still seemed possible, and there were no limits placed upon our dreams by others or ourselves. I am one of the lucky few whose answer has stayed the same throughout the years — I want to be a teacher.

But whether you are here today completely confident in your next step in life, or have no idea what tomorrow after 3 p.m. holds, I want to encourage you to think of the question differently.

I recently came across a video on social media of a woman on a college campus. She was going up to students and asking them what they wanted to do, and how much they wanted to make upon graduation. The students’ answers were typical and likely comparable to what our community members may respond.

It wasn’t until she interviewed an elementary school-aged child that anything stuck out to me. She asked the child what he wanted to be when he grew up. The child responded that he wanted to be a doctor.

When the interviewer asked the child what he wanted to make, the child paused, and then responded, “I want to make people feel OK.”

This simple but profound statement highlights the importance of the actions, the intent, and the doing behind our roles that we too often forget about today. More often, we are overcome with pressure to collect titles we identify as important and earn monetary amounts we define as successful.

In this, we miss the most important part of the question: “What do you want to do?”

For me, becoming a teacher is more than just a career choice. While I am in search of one particular title, I am determined to accomplish much more than what one may anticipate from that single descriptor.

What I want to actually do is empower students and help them develop self-confidence, regardless of their past experiences or backgrounds. I want to make my students happy, and I want to make them feel safe.

The one thing I won’t have to teach my students, however, is to dream with pure intentions. This is something I believe we are all born with, and is never too late to reactivate.

As for all of us, it doesn’t matter if our dreams have changed a million times over the years. I personally do not know any second graders who know what political science, health policy and management, or quantitative finance is, so I am confident in saying that it is healthy to evolve in this way. However, don’t let the roots of your dreams change, even if the fruits of your efforts look different than what you once imagined.

In closing, this is our opportunity to get out into the real world and do something good. No matter what field you end up in or whether your impact is big, small, flashy, or subdued, make sure your actions are something your 7-year-old self would be proud of. It is more important to impress that version of yourself than the one today.

Thank you very much. Congratulations, and go Friars!