Remarks to Fellow Graduates 2010

Priyanks Navin DeoMs. Priyanka Navin Deo, Class of 2010

May 15, 2010

Never Walk Backwards

Good afternoon distinguished ladies and gentlemen and my fellow graduates. I am honored for being asked to speak before you today.

Being born and brought up in India, my attitude has always been to make the most of every prospect that comes my way. Due to the fierce competition among students in my country, the only way to distinguish one-self from the rest of the crowd was to be well-rounded and affect the community in a positive light. This meant not just excelling in academics, but excelling in extra-curricular activities as well- whether they are sport related or service related.

When my parents and I came to America, I remember my mother and father telling me to take make the most of the resources available to me in my school and in my community because back home in India, students only wished they could have the same things.

Today, as your student speaker, I am honored to represent all of our hard work and dedication toward scholarship and expanding ourselves. While thinking about what this honor really meant to me, I remember something that happened not too long ago.

Looking at a copy of my resume when I was in India this past December, my friend said out loud, “Wow, I wish I had all of these activities available to me when I was growing up.”

After she said that, it really made me realize just how enriching an education at UIS as well as the countless opportunities at this college have been in helping me grow and shaping me into what I am today along with my academics. It also made me realize that millions of students not just in India, but around the world, simply do not have the same clubs, the same sports teams, or the same resources that others take for granted everyday!

Ladies and gentlemen, a University of Illinois degree is representative of outstanding achievement as an all-rounded graduate. This is one of highest regarded and most recognized degrees in the United States of America and only the best and brightest of the country are sitting before me today.

What is unique to UIS is that we all really know the value of academics as well as extra-curricular activities, and truly exemplify those that make the most of every opportunity around them.

All of my fellow graduates, in a growing and competitive world, employers and companies are looking for as much experience in one person as possible. This experience comes not just by being smart in the classroom, but having an outreach towards the community simultaneously. The great Abraham Lincoln once said, “I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards.

By reflecting on the meaning of this quote, I am confident it is you young men and women seated here today who will never walk backwards but rather take our great state, our country, and the future of our world forward because of your numerous qualifications and experiences in addition to your strong academic background.

Therefore, professors, parents, families, friends: thank you for the amazing memories and the fantastic experience…..graduates….today is your day…..and I sincerely hope from my heart that you continue to walk forward and do great things for the betterment of the world around you. Here’s to a great future and a new beginning!


by Priyanka Navin Deo