Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Celebrating the #UFHHPgrad Spring Class of 2020

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Hi, my name is Mike Reid. I'm dean of the College of Health and Human Performance

and I just want to take a few seconds to congratulate you on being a member of

the graduating class of 2020. Man, what a spring this has been, huh? None of us saw

this coming. Who knew that campus would be so disrupted? That all of us would have our

lives so disrupted? We're not on campus. I'm talking to you from my house. You're

probably at home with your family or you found someone else that you're crashing

with trying to make this spring happen. You're taking courses online, maybe you

had to sort out an internship. Despite all these challenges, despite the

disruption, despite being separated from many of your friends here on campus,

you've managed to make it happen. Congratulations. Congratulations on all

the online courses you've taken this semester, on the internship you may have

had to sort out this semester, congratulations on your perseverance and

your dedication and the resilience that you've shown as Florida Gators and HHP

alums. Please know how proud I am of you. Not just me but the entire faculty stand

shoulder to shoulder to congratulate you on this amazing accomplishment - no other

class ever at the University of Florida has had to

deal with what you've dealt with and yet you've succeeded. So you should be proud.

I'm sure that your family is. I'm sure that your friends are. I'm sure that in

your own ways privately, across this state and across the nation

you are celebrating this graduation. Please know that here in Gainesville we

celebrate with you. We're incredibly proud of you. We wish you every success

in the future. Come back and see us again soon.

We need to see your face on campus when time and circumstances permit. In

the interim, every best wish for a success in the future and Go Gators!

Hello 2020 graduates. I am Delisha Milton-Jones, Lady Gator

All-American, 17-year WNBA legend, two-time WNBA Champion for the Los

Angeles Sparks and two-time Gold Medal winning Olympic basketball player. I

attended University of Florida from 1993 to 1997. I studied sports management with a

minor in mass communications. Congratulations are in order -

and I'm here to bring you a message of love, hope, positivity during these trying

times we are all fighting through. As a Gator, we are built for times such as

these and there's no better moment to make a difference in this world as the

wonderfully gifted Class of 2020. The pandemic may have altered your

opportunity to celebrate with family and friends but I want you to stop at no

cost to enjoy this moment. You did it! Don't let anything, anyone, or any adverse

circumstances stop you from allowing your light to shine bright. Go forward

knowing you are made for success and leave your mark on this world in the

most positive fashion possible. Before I go, I want to leave you with two quotes

that have allowed me to persevere through life flawlessly.

The first being, "dependent upon your perspective, some of your greatest

victories come after some of your greatest moments of doubt and defeat."

Lastly, "success favors the bold." So what are you waiting on? There's a world out

there for you to conquer. You're made for this. Go bravely and let your inner Gator

growl. [chomp chomp chomp]

Hello Class of 2020, my name is Alfeil Felipe, or Alf, and as a fellow graduate,

I would like to congratulate you all on this amazing accomplishment. And although not

an ideal time were setting, let us celebrate our journey, the memories

created, friendships formed and the future ahead, even if that remains six feet

apart. Let us thank the people and pets that supported us through it all and

most importantly commemorate yourself; your triumphs against personal grief,

restless nights, or maybe that one professor who would and that 89.9. We made it. Now

before we all go in our separate paths, I want to leave you with an anecdote and a

message of comfort. Let's think back to how many of us began college finally

having independence, full of energy and no eye bags - life seemed great! Well for

me, it was all fun and games until I failed all my first exams, struggled to

find new friends and came this close to transferring back home. I mean who else

thought they'd peaked in high school? The "new semester, new me" motto could only get

me so far and I concluded the obvious: life just never goes as planned. Even now

our fantasized closure of graduation has perhaps been marred by disappointment

and unsaid goodbyes; however in journeys when we lose our sense of belonging

when backup plans fall short, I still believe there is hope in the midst of

uncertainty. Rather than preparing to take on new feats, find grounding before

moving forward. Specifically, I have found two tethers comfortable across my

journey. The first tether incorporates the accumulation of our experiences.

Recognize the times when we have surpassed sorrow and tragedy - how we have

grown from hardships, successes and the moments when we just try to get by. The

second tether is our relationships. Relationships symbolize our values and

the influences upon our lives. While we have personal relationships that help

promote our character, also recognize the moral responsibility we have to others -

sharing the integrity of our living principles not only physically but through

our thoughts, beliefs, motives and words. These two attributes have provided me a

tether to comfort and peace and I realized this at the end of my sophomore

year when I thought my aspiration becoming a doctor were ruined. Like many

others, personal and academic hardships drained my energy and motivation. You

know, I think college has taught us all how to put up a front but inside I felt

hopeless and disconnected from friends. However, as I let time drag me

forward I found comfort and smaller things.

It started with different opportunities as I became more involved in our college

and internship, and even joined a new gym, and don't get me wrong - I still love

Southwest. But the different experiences introduce new vigor and most importantly

deeper relationships. I became intentional with my

interactions - striked conversation first and listened more. The different stories

smiles and laughs lifted me up day by day. New joys and support systems sparked

confidence towards my pursuit in medicine and I found myself trying to

repay the positive influences I experienced. My path taught me to embrace

the moments of vulnerability as personal suffering and failure are nothing to

discount. Thus, I urge you to translate your

experiences and relationships into positive change. Practice generosity

selflessness and empathy. Let us continue to educate ourselves and listen

actively to those in need as new perspectives may refresh our livelihood

as they did with mine. To close, I want to quote the author from "When Breath

Becomes Air" Paul Kalanithi, "Human knowledge is never contained in one

person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the

world, and still it is never complete." And I like this because it displays a

connection between the two tethers: One, our experiences that attempt to grapple

life's anguish and two, our relationships that ground our present and guide our

future. For example, our thirst for closure - like right now - may have to

settle with bittersweet reconciliation of the past few years. But, don't feel

pressure to find an immediate sense of belonging. We deserve to relish in our

memories - cherish the dumb and embarrassing moments, the highs and lows.

Understand that fulfillment is not achieved through a plan or meeting

expectations. Rather, learn to appreciate the present - our ongoing journey - as

fulfillment is nourished by the experiences we've been fortunate to have

and the people we are thankful to know. So Class of 2020, as time drags all of us

forward, acknowledge how far you've come and how far you still can go, but don't

forget to pick others up along the way. Congratulations and Go Gators!

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