Remarks to Fellow Graduates – Jessica Odigie

A Pursuit of Knowledge
May 12, 2012


Good afternoon. I would first like to start by welcoming, and thanking, the friends, family, and all those assisting the graduates in being able to participate in the 2012 commencement ceremony of the University of Illinois-Springfield. It is a great honor to stand before the largest commencement ceremony audience in UIS history.


It has been a long journey. Some journey’s more extensive than others, stretching longer than the average four or five years, and some journey’s presenting more trials and tribulations than others. Nonetheless, we have ALL managed to accomplish what it is we have set forth to do, and that is receive our college education.

So apart from the “commencement ceremony”, what is the true meaning of today? Today is a celebration of not only all that we have accomplished here at this University, but all that we will continue to achieve and strive for throughout our ongoing pursuit of knowledge; wherever that pursuit of knowledge may take us: graduate school, medical school, law school, the work force, or one of the other various paths UIS students have taken.

Regardless of what form of education we plan to further pursue (either formally or in the real world), which state in which we plan to pursue it, and every other variable that will differ from graduate to graduate, today is the day of OUR commencement ceremony. Today is the day that we can check off “get a college education” from our list of things to do. Today is the day that we move from one level to the next.


Around this time four years ago, we were spread out around the world; or around the Midwest may be a little more accurate. Although all entering as the incoming class of the University of Illinois-Springfield, we were all in different places, having different mindsets. Some of us still getting over the shock of being accepted into a university, while others began devising a plan to take over the world. At the time, I did not exactly know where I fit in on the spectrum, but it would soon be apparent to me that God had great things in store for me here at UIS- from making the Dean’s List, to making history by bringing social fraternities and sororities to UIS alongside Kyle Palmer, Robert Dixon, and a woman we would have NEVER been able to do it without- Dr. Clarice Ford.

Looking around this auditorium, I know each graduate has various memories. Speaking personally, as I reflect back to August of 2008, when my parents moved me into room 205 of Founders Residence Hall, I was overly anxious for them to leave me to explore the campus, which was much larger to me then, than it is now. Regardless of my desire to emerge myself into this new college life on my own, the two of them had another plan. It was explained to all parents to be out of the residence halls before 3:00 that afternoon. However, my parents, reluctant to let me go, somehow managed to break the ONLY rule, and spend the night in the residence hall. After they left the next morning, I was ready for anything thrown my way…or so I thought. Just a couple weeks later, I was begging them to take me home with them. The stresses of college had already gotten to me. At that point, like many other points throughout my time at UIS, the support of my family and friends became essential. I want to give a sincere THANK YOU to my parents and brother for encouraging me to work harder than I ever thought possible in order to achieve what I’ve always dreamed of…and as I remember the late nights spent studying and writing papers in room 205 of Founders Residence Hall with Justin Rose, Ashley Scott, and Gozie Umeadi, I thank them as well for their support and encouragement.

Although I would have NEVER admitted it at the time, I had NO IDEA what these past four years had in store for me. As I prepare to enter another three years of the unknown, otherwise known as law school, I feel confident that the knowledge I’ve acquired, and the lessons I’ve learned at UIS, both inside and outside of the classroom, will only continue to be built upon, and I am positive that my fellow graduates feel the same.

The meaning of this is that we all come from diverse backgrounds with a wide variety of experiences, bringing different ways of thinking, or different knowledge to the table. Now that we have all dipped into each other’s pools of knowledge, we are ready to enter the “real world” that these past four years have so thoroughly prepared us for.


So where do we end up? Our final destination is not something that can be determined at our “commencement ceremony”. Our final destination will become more clear to us as we progress and acquire more knowledge. Although today is graduation day, today is not the end mark of our education. The world awaits us graduates of the class of 2012.


With that being said, I offer my sincere CONGRATULATIONS to the graduating class of 2012!

Thank you.

by Jessica Odigie