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Future Educator Offers Lessons From Liberal Studies Education

College of Humanities and Social Sciences Student Commencement Speech
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Alexis Labellarte, B.A. liberal studies

Hello colleagues and faculty, families and friends; my name is Alexis Labellarte. I would first like to thank the liberal studies faculty for having such confidence in my capabilities. I can’t express enough how rewarding and satisfying this moment feels. To my fellow graduates, I hope that you share my sentiment. Earning a university degree is a monumental accomplishment, and each and every one of us in attendance today deserves to bask in our achievements. Undoubtedly, the past four years have been riddled with chaos and challenges. Though I could continue to acknowledge the collectively endured hardships throughout this time period, I would like to use this opportunity to highlight the positive changes occurring all around me.

Reflecting back on the moment I declared my major as liberal studies, I’ll be honest — I had no idea what I was signing myself up for. All I knew was that it was one of the degree paths I could follow in order to become an educator.

Up until this past year, I found difficulty in explaining to another person what it meant to be a liberal studies major. I would explain that “it’s a little bit of everything,” or that “it’s a lot of philosophical debate.” While these descriptions do suffice to a certain extent, I recently discovered a new, deeper truth about the essence of liberal studies.

In accumulating the knowledge that liberal studies and our faculty members have imparted on me, I have learned the most about myself and what I ascribe meaning to. As liberal studies majors, we are given the privilege to step outside of our own perspectives and challenge ourselves to understand as many alternative viewpoints as we can. The reflexive nature of liberal studies allows its students to be lifelong learners and advocates for self-growth. With this in mind, I have no doubt that we will be properly equipped to contribute to society in purposeful ways.

Aside from the variety of paths that we will pave for ourselves throughout society, it is of primary importance to recognize the individual choices we have made that have culminated in this moment. Choices are made for a myriad of reasons; sometimes with personal benefit in mind, and other times, when there are no other choices available. Regardless of the circumstances involved in the choices we’ve made over the last four years, I can say with certainty that we all chose to devote ourselves to the pursuit of knowledge.

An inspirational person in my life has never failed to remind me that, “They can take everything from you, but they can’t take away your knowledge.” So, graduates, never fail to remind yourselves of how rich this makes you. The knowledge we are departing California State University, Fullerton with has prepared us to make choices that will allow us to recognize our potential, and furthermore, discover the truths and meanings laden within our own lives.

Making decisions as such can feel intimidating, uncertain, and sometimes, even flat out wrong. One last lesson that liberal studies illuminated for me and that, in turn, I would like to illustrate for all of you, is that we aren’t ever going to have all the right answers. Life is meant to be unpredictable. Once we are able to embrace the notion that there is only so much within our realm of control, we can begin to live our lives lightly, truthfully, and meaningfully.

Class of 2022, my final hope for you all is to discover what makes you feel light. Thank you to everyone here today for allowing me the privilege to provide insight on the dignity behind graduating as a liberal studies student. Congratulations, Titans of 2022. We did it!