Commencement Speech 2008

I’m posting the text of my speech at 8:25 AM 5/23/08 but it won’t be visible until 11:00 AM. I will be speaking or will have spoken by then. Take it or leave it, here are the words I will speak/spoke. Whoohooo!

Update 05/24/08 8:32 AM: I had my Gram on the phone, placed next to the mic on the podium, while giving my speech. She said she heard nearly all of it with a few parts overtaken by static. During commencement I thought of telling everyone she was on the phone before I began my speech but wasn’t sure if I should. In hind sight… I wish I had. To end on a positive note though, she was able to be ‘there’ even though she was in CT. =)

Update 05/25/08 11:07 AM: I realized per a conversation with me mudda yesterday that I failed to note why my Gram was on the horn. She was supposed to come to graduation but had surgery only weeks before commencement that kept her from making the trip to SLC. Kinda’sorta an important detail.

Update 05/27/08 9:21 AM: SLC posted Commencement 2008 info and the full press release. The text to each speech is now available too.

Sarah Lawrence College
Graduate Student Commencement Speech 2008
Gary Ploski
MFA Theatre (Acting)

slc commencement speech 2008President Lawrence, trustees, faculty, staff, esteemed guests, parents, family, friends, and of course the class of 2008. I am deeply honored to speak before you all today.

What a trip it has been, down a long and winding road.

A question I’m sure we’ve all been asked and have asked ourselves is “What’s next?” I know there are answers among us and I know there are more questions too. What future decisions we make and what their reflection will be on our Sarah Lawrence experience, is up to us.

It is through our choices: to pick up the garbage on the ground and put it into the trash or recycling bin, to give someone in need a buck or two, to blow bubbles in chocolate milk – when everyone is looking. To get involved. This will reveal who we are to the world and to ourselves. Our choices have made the past few years unique. With that in mind, remember this, we have every chance to change the way people see us, Sarah Lawrence, and the world.

Things are different here. We’ve been inspired to try new things by phenomenal peers, faculty, and staff. We’ve had the opportunity to play. With words, with images, with sights and sounds. With ideas, concepts, perceptions, numbers, colors, and every other thing an SLC student can conceive.

Without planning, the campus became our sandbox. What will you do in your next sandbox? I’ll bet it’s not what I would do. Or the person next to you. There is something we all will do – Whatever we can imagine. Imaginations at SLC are… Well. Phew… They run the gambit gamut.

Now, is play time really over?

Hamlet tells a group of actors, about the act of playing, that the
“…purpose of playing, whose end, both at the
first and now, was and is, to hold, as ’twere, the
mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature,
scorn her own image, and the very age and body of
the time his form and pressure.”

Play time is not over. Not by a long shot.

Sandbox. Playing. Two words, with very little effort, that kindle images of our childhood. As Hamlet, or rather Shakespeare, says, playing isn’t a game of volleyball on the beach or a food fight with grapes. No. It is our chance to show the world as we see it. In this way, we can change the world. And we can… If we choose to.

There is a key difference between our childhood play time and adult play time – the ability to reflect and assess. We’ve all made mistakes along the way. “Thank you mistakes. Thank you so much. You are as much a part of our triumphs as you are our failures.”

And so we choose to play. We reflect and assess. Then comes our most challenging hurdle… Repeating the process. Again and again and again. Because this need, it’s inside us, and we have the ability to express it. Because we can! Because if we don’t… Who will?

The world awaits us. And it is our creativity and drive that will reflect the truth of the world in our own unique ways. Our passions have molded each other. Now… It’s time to spread the wealth. Heads up world… Here comes the Sarah Lawrence class of 2008!

Congratulations to all, thank you.

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