Ashley Carrington

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Let me start by thanking Dr. Haefner for that gracious introduction. I would like to thank all of the faculty, staff and administration here who have dedicated their time and effort to all of us graduates. Thank you to the family and friends who traveled here today and supported us during our collegiate years. Thank you to my fellow graduates for persevering, adapting to change, and believing in yourself, it truly is an honor to be graduating with you.

In this world, we will meet two types of people, the person who will choose to go after their dreams and the person who will choose to wait for their dreams to be handed to them.

In order for you to be here today, you made a series of choices. You chose to stay friends with some people and chose to let a relationship go; you chose to go after that co-op despite the fact that it may be hundreds of miles from your friends and family; you chose to stay in and study as opposed to go out. The product of your success is based on a series of your choices.

Choosing what to or not to do is by far one of the hardest things that we undergo. We go through a series of possibilities and think of all the variables that can happen prior to us making a decision. This process causes anxiety and is emotionally taxing, it forces us to think is this really what I should do with my life?

Is this who I want to be?

Am I even in the right position to make this choice?

The awakening truth is that there is no right choice; you can never choose the perfect scenario. The power lies in the ability to choose, the confidence that is fabricated as a result of just making a choice.

RIT has empowered us to harness our confidence such that we are more comfortable with making tough decisions. Leaving RIT does not strip us of our courage but rather enables us to make choices that can make a positive impact on society.

Since a young age, we were asked, “what do we want to be when we grow up?” Our responses could have ranged from a firefighter, to an astronaut, to a doctor or to a lawyer. LinkedIn conducted a survey of about 8,000 professionals globally and found that just less than 30 percent of workers land their dream job or a similar work related field after college. With that, according to probability out of the 10 people in your row only 3 of you will go off to do exactly, or close to, what you wanted to do when you were growing up. Furthermore, out of those three people, two will walk away from that dream job within three years or less.

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a doctor because I value giving back to society, until I took chemistry in 10th grade and realized that becoming a doctor just is not realistic for me. Although I will never become a doctor, I can still channel my passion in a profession that is more suitable for me. I am choosing to go after my dreams.

While all the choices we have made up until this point may have steered us in a different direction they did not deter us from our ability to still choose who we want to be. Your profession does not define you; you can choose to be a humanitarian, to be a millionaire, to be the world’s greatest parent, to be an inventor, to be a social activist, to be happy.

No matter whom you choose to become, never fall victim to the comfort levels of just attaining the status quo. Choose to be more than mediocre; do not let the fears, insecurities and beliefs of others limit what is possible for you. You see, you have everything you need to change the world; but you have to be willing to put in the work. Nothing worth attaining in life comes easy it takes passion, drive and choosing to achieve greatness.

Confucius once said, “He who says he can and he who says he can’t are both usually right.” Your life does not stop here, this is only the beginning and those people who you have grown with during your time at this great university will still be there if you choose to keep them.

The power of choice is in your hands, it always has been and it always will be, the question is what will you choose?

Congratulations to the class of 2015, it is your time to make your mark on the world.