By Kristalyn Gill, senior EC Scholar
Where the roots reach, branches climb.
Arriving at the land of purple and gold,
I found a school with an old soul and a young heart
Where dreams dare to expand and a thriving community of art
A hospital with researchers by the dozen
And a business school with students fully driven
A college of engineers just waiting to build into the skies
A land of historians, entrepreneurs, teachers, and writers.
They said it was my turn to make the right choices. Choices,
they are indeed a tricky thing.
Flinging yourself into the next four years of your life is no easy feat.
But you’ve done it.
Your feet brought you to this auditorium, and so have mine.
Despite our paths, we have arrived at our home, our haven.
As a dancer, I communicate through movement.
The moment I decided to pursue this career, I knew that it would be no easy game of tic-tac-toe
but more like finding a grain of wheat in the Sahara…
Nothing about this choice was logical to outsiders
But everything about this choice was right.
With a family of scholars and peers in this Honors College
I walked into this new chapter of my story with relationships to keep me grounded,
to keep me focused,
and to keep me determined.
This College is rooted deeply,
with branches reaching to do more,
to see more,
to know more,
and to be more.
More than you can imagine will happen to you while you grow into this community.
I have been tumultuously thrust into opportunities I never bought into the reality of:
Like having my poems published and received with love,
Getting the chance to dance in New York City
on one of the most well known stages in dance history.
Hearing how Dr. Walker, Dr. Fraley, and Dr. Fogarty all deeply believe in my passions,
stopping at nothing to help me conquer challenges and limitations.
Being financially supported to combine the arts and research,
Exploring Washington D.C. alongside my inspirational cohorts.
Challenging women in domestic violence shelters to let their creative juices flow,
Teaching children in Sunday school how to write the word “Go,”
Leading Bible Study with best friends and sharing my faith in Christ,
Dancing in Messick, McGinnis, in Hendrix, and here at Wright.
Having donors trust in this great school, financially supporting my dreams,
Performing at Bowery Poetry Club in New York City’s Lower Eastside scene.
Studying foreign cultures and earthquakes in the Peruvian mountainside.
Writing my own booklet about defeating anxiety during Me-Time.
Working in the Big Apple as a professional dancer,
Speaking at convocation knowing I don’t have all the right answers.
And despite this facility and these four years being all about knowing,
All this time will teach you is how to survive the ebb and the flowing.
It’s not about being right, but how a right is made by three lefts, three things to leave.
Leave your fears behind.
Leave yourself to grow.
Leave your passions to flourish.
These people will enrich your life, as they have mine.
They taught me that my words matter,
Despite my battering self-doubt, their encouragement left me standing tall
I have found a home in these hearts and a community in these companions.
More than just a degree, you will leave after four years here with joy, utter joy
From realizing that yes, grades matter, but those moments spent investing into one another like a metered parking spot left you feeling more whole than an A you might’ve got.
From coming to the conclusion that teachers are wise, if you listen you can learn so much between the lines. By making genuine relationships, these masters of knowledge can teach you to sail your own pirate ship.
From accepting that challenges will come and did come by the dozen, but they only serve to shape you. Amidst tragedy and heartbreak these losses still do not define you.
They say that during college you will find yourself.
I will counter this statement and say no, you will never find yourself.
You will release yourself.
After three years, I can say that my joy is found in the PEOPLE.
It all comes back to the people.
It is why I chose my blood to run purple and gold,
and I believe the people are what inspired you.
These people are the ones who pushed my artistry to become greater,
my passion to grow deeper,
my love to reach farther,
my determination to be stronger,
and my stamina to go longer.
This school introduced me to such inspirational movers and shakers, to the doers and creators of change and beauty, art and industry, research and ingenuity.
I inhale joy during each breath I take while on the dance floor as a new exciting space to explore.
These human stars in my night sky taught me to push myself to finally break up with who I was three years ago.
To break down the boundaries, limits, judgments, and hindrances I placed on my own path.
I will leave this May with confidence in my back pocket not because of my abilities,
but because I have finally begun the process of enjoying my own artistry.
A composition of moments and memories.
the words written for others and those I kept for myself
the pain of injury, of heartbreak, of loss
the storms caused by the weather and those initiated by circumstance
the questions of the future and the exclamations of joy
the moments dancing in front of thousands and those spent dancing alone
the laying on of hands and the laying down of hearts
the wet football games and the dry lectures
the hard conversations and the soft sunrises
the telling of stories and the act of making mine thicker.
So welcome freshmen,
welcome my new family,
welcome to our community.
Welcome to the act of making YOUR story thicker.
We cannot wait to walk beside you as your three lefts make a right.