Graduating class of Spring 2012

Graduating fiction student Teddy Jones gave an inspiring address to the Spring 2012 class of graduates that concluded with the graduates saluting those who have supported them through the program.
She also announced that the graduating class has donated $3,685 to the MFA Endowed Scholarship Fund.
Here are her remarks:
The graduating class of May, 2012 salutes you. We arrive here today like children after a McDonald’s happy meal –with full-stomach satisfaction  and barely contained anticipation—where’s the toy?
The ceremony and ritual of a graduation encourages many responses from those whose accomplishments it celebrates.  Two among those responses tower above all others. The first is reflection and the second is gratitude.
Reflection arrives, as glimpses in a mirror or a still pond, as views of the past overlaid upon the countenance of the one who pauses. In the case of the members of our class , it’s likely we each see different things, but certainly our views hold some things in common. For example, we see important bits of what we have incorporated—knowledge of craft, habits, and commitments.
Those specifics of the elements of craft, regardless of whether we write for the stage and screen, nonfiction, poetry, or fiction for adults or for children and young adults, vary with the specialty. Yet common and basic to them all is the importance of choosing the right word, the word that conveys the essence of a particular human experience.  We hope that we have begun to learn those things that would make us writers.
Wallace Stegner captured the essence when he wrote, “The prayer of anyone  hoping to make himself into a writer should be, “Lord, let me grow into such a man as has something to say!  Let me be one of those…’upon whom nothing is lost.’  Let understanding and wisdom be engraved on my mind as deep as the lines of living on a wise and weathered face.  Teach me to love and teach me to be humble and let me learn to respect human differences, human privacy, human dignity, human pain.  And then let me find the words to say it so it can’t be overlooked and can’t be forgotten.”
Among the habits that have become ingrained during the process of our program at Spalding is that of giving and receiving criticism with humility.  This habit improves us as writers and as human beings. And each of us has been encouraged to practice writing as both craft and meditation. And if we didn’t have it before, we also have gained the habit of writing regularly, consistently, as a matter of routine as important as eating or sleeping.
Commitment, the final sort of glimpse one might see in reflecting upon our days as students here is based on values nurtured, encouraged, enhanced, but seldom directly instilled by others. Our faculty know that. And so, they model their commitments. We have seen them. And as a result, it is safe to say that we all leave here committed to appreciating the uniqueness of individuals, to valuing the interrelatedness of the arts, and, most importantly, to continuing to write.
About gratitude—we owe it to many.  Our classmates who have helped us grow as writers, the program staff who have smoothed our paths through an appropriately complex series of curricular and extracurricular experiences; the faculty who have mentored us.   They  all occupy our thoughts today.  And beyond those essential people within the MFA program, we also are grateful to the administration of Spalding University for their foresight in supporting the development of the program and for their continued support.
There are many ways to demonstrate our gratitude, as many different ways as there are members of the class.  No doubt you will hear from us one by one.  And there is one way that we collectively agreed to convey our appreciation.  The members of this class have, together, contributed a class gift to the MFA Endowed Scholarship Fund in the amount of $3,685.
And finally, one other expression of gratitude is essential today, that to the families, significant others, and friends of the graduates. You have supported us, commiserated with us, tolerated us, fed us, and now you celebrate with us. We want you to know that we appreciate you and all that you mean to us.
Let us show you now, all of you to whom we are grateful, how grateful we are, with our applause.

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