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Women and Gender Studies Grad to Nontraditional Grads: ‘We All Deserve to Be Celebrated’

College of Humanities and Social Sciences Student Commencement Speech
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Abby Hunt, B.A. women and gender studies

Hello, everyone. Isn’t this exciting? I feel so honored to be speaking to you all today. I want to begin by thanking everyone for coming here to share this day with us. Specifically, I want to thank my parents, my loved ones, my fellow women and gender studies students, and our incredible faculty.

I transferred to Cal State Fullerton after four years at community college. At that point, I was tired of school. When it came to picking a major, I decided that I wanted to do something where I would learn interesting things and meet interesting people. After my first semester, I knew that women and gender studies would be the right fit.

It’s been wonderful to learn not just from my professors, who have been so supportive and so passionate about their work, but also from my fellow students. Together, we got to create a space where we could share our passions and connect theory to ourselves, to each other and to the world around us.

When I first came to Cal State Fullerton in fall 2019, I imagined a much different experience ahead of me. The past two years have been hard. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to measure what’s been lost, but it’s important to recognize that what we’ve accomplished here is no small feat. We are allowed space to grieve what we lost and the experiences we didn’t get to have, but I think that we should all be very proud that we made it here.

I want to especially recognize those who don’t feel like they had the typical “graduate high school and finish university in four years” experience. I want to recognize my fellow transfer students and those who took time off to take care of themselves or others, those who changed their majors or started school later, or those who left and came back for any reason. The standard narrative we have for education doesn’t tend to account for life happening to us along the way. What matters is that we’re all here, and we all deserve to be celebrated for what we have accomplished.

Lastly, I want to invite you to think about what you’re taking home here — besides, of course, a super expensive piece of paper. We’re taking home all the things that we learned and the experiences that we had. Here, we gained new lenses through which to see the world, new ways to ask questions and get answers, new connections, and new realizations about who we are.

We get to take all these things to the next stage of our lives, whether that’s going to be grad school, a career or just a moment to breathe while you figure it out.

I want to thank everyone who guided and supported all of us: the faculty, the staff and all of our loved ones who have been there, whether that’s for the whole journey or for just a part of it. Make sure these folks know what they mean to you.

And, thank you to my fellow students. What a cool journey this has been. I can’t wait to see where we all go.