Mister Chancellor, members of Convocation, fellow graduates, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to start by congratulating all the graduates and by thanking everyone else for coming here today to witness this momentous occasion.
When I think back about my time here there have been many wonderful memories: meeting new friends during Frosh Week, exploring new idea from class, or having a drink or two at the Bomber. But there have also been less enjoyable moments: sleepless nights in the lab, writing hundred page test documents, or countless hours working on a proof that a professor said was "intuitive". For those people here who think university is one big party, ask the graduate you are here with and I'm sure they can relate some stories of their own.
A quote from my hometown's rowing club comes to mind: "pain is temporary, pride is forever". We have just completed the first part of this quote and now comes the second. When we tell people that we have a degree from the University of Waterloo, be it at an interview or just talking to a friend, say it with pride. For we didn't just graduate from one of the best universities in Canada, we graduated from THE best university in Canada. Definitely something we can all be proud of. As the end of my undergraduate career approached, I don't mind admitting that I was a little scared. Scared with what the "real world" had in store, and that it would not be as exciting as my time here. Well, worry no longer fellow graduates! In just seven weeks since my last exam I've had many new experiences: spent 27 hours in an airport, had my grandmother pass away, and was denied entry into the United States; not just once, but twice. So far this sounds pretty grim, but as usual, the bad is balanced by the good: for I finally made it to California, started work full-time, and was able to attend a beautiful wedding last weekend. Thus, whether your future plans are to enter the workforce, continue on in academia, or to take some time off, rest assured that there continue to be a plethora of new and interesting experiences out there to be had. This is not the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.
I would also like to share with you an excerpt from my favourite poem:
"I asked for all things that I might enjoy life,
I was given life that I might enjoy all things"
How does this relate you ask? During our experiences at Waterloo, no one has had everything they would have liked. However we should not look back with regret at not having that wonderful stereo system; rather we should be glad that we had the oppourtunity to gain valuable work experience through co-op. We should not be bitter at our professors for our less-than-desired marks; but be ecstatic that we were able to spend some time with such brilliant people. I'm sure you are all anxious to continue on with the ceremony, and you probably won't even remember half of what I just said, but if you remember anything from my speech, remember this: the future is unwritten, and the pen is in our hands!
Thank you.