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Convocation 2012

 


Convocation Address



Dorree Gurdak '92

Senior Vice President, Weber Shandwick
Boston, MA

August 27, 2012

Dorree Gurdak '92GOOD MORNING CHAIR OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES MR. GILROY, PRESIDENT HUTTON, PROVOST KIRKPATRICK, STUDENT SENATE PRESIDENT MR. AL-HADID, MR PATTARINI AND ALL OF UTICA COLLEGE’S WONDERFUL FACULTY STAFF AND A BIG WELCOME TO THE INCOMING CLASS OF 2016 AND THE OFFICIAL START TO YOUR FIRST ACADEMIC YEAR.

IT IS A PRIVILEGE FOR ME TO STAND HERE IN FRONT OF YOU ALL 24 YEARS LATER FROM WHEN I SAT IN YOUR SEAT. I DO KNOW I SAT THERE WITH EXCITEMENT, ANTICIPATION AND NERVOUSNESS ABOUT WHAT MY COLLEGE EXPERIENCE WOULD ENTAIL.

I’M HERE TO TELL YOU I KNOW THAT UTICA COLLEGE WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH A STRONG AND SOLID BASE FOR A LIFE FILLED WITH LEARNING AND SUCCESS. BUT BEFORE YOU EVEN ARE ABLE TO THINK ABOUT THAT FAR AWAY FUTURE AND THE ROAD TO YOUR DREAMS, I’M SURE YOU’RE SITTING THERE WONDERING “WILL I DO WELL ACADEMICALLY NOW THAT I’M IN COLLEGE? WILL I MAKE FRIENDS AND WILL I FIT INTO THIS NEW COMMUNITY? AND I’M HERE TO TELL YOU YES YOU WILL SUCCEED ACADEMICALLY, YOU WILL MAKE LIFE LONG FRIENDS AND YOU WILL FIT INTO THIS DIVERSE, SMART, FUN, EDUCATED AND CARING COMMUNITY VERY WELL.

MY THREE TIPS ON ENSURING THAT YOU DO ALL THAT ARE: FIRST MAKE THE MOST OUT OF THE NEXT FOUR YEARS OF YOUR LIFE. SECOND, ALWAYS BE TRUE TO YOURSELF. LASTLY, REMEMBER THERE IS A WORLD OUT THERE THAT IS BIGGER THAN UTICA COLLEGE AND THAT’S THE WORLD YOU ARE PREPARING FOR WHILE YOU ARE HERE.

SO NUMBER ONE MAKE THE MOST OUT OF THE NEXT FOUR YEARS.

THE THEME OF THE ACADEMIC Y YEAR THIS YEAR IS “OUR COMMON FUTURE.”

AND TO ME THAT COMMON FUTURE MEANS THAT NO MATTER HOW FAR WE HAVE COME AS A SOCIETY AND HOW TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED AND SHIFTED THE WAY WE COMMUNICATE, THE COMMON FUTURE IS ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE IN IT. THE COMMUNICATION TOOLS MAY BE DIFFERENT, BUT YOU AS FRESHMAN HAVE THE SAME HOPES, DREAMS AND FEARS AS ALL THOSE WHO WERE HERE BEFORE YOU. EVEN IF YOU MAY BE SHARING THEM ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER AND YOU AND YOU WANT TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF THE NEXT FOUR YEARS.

WHEN I ARRIVED AT UTICA COLLEGE, AS A PUBLIC RELATIONS AND JOURNALISM MAJOR, I WANTED TO LEARN ABOUT THE WORLD AND THAT I DID. I STARTED WRITING FOR THE UTICA COLLEGE NEWSPAPER, THE TANGERINE RIGHT AWAY AND IN MY JUNIOR AND SENIOR YEARS SERVED AS THE MANAGING EDITOR. I WORKED IN THE WRITING CENTER AND VOLUNTEERED IN THE ADMISSIONS OFFICE AS AN UTICA COLLEGE AMBASSADOR AND GAVE TOURS OF THE CAMPUS TO PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS, I WENT TO LONDON FOR THREE WEEKS TO SEE TWENTY PLAYS AS PART OF A LONDON THEATER TOUR CLASS AND STUDIED CHINESE AND CHINESE CULTURE FROM A PROFESSOR WHO WAS HERE AS PART OF AN EXCHANGE PROGRAM. I ATTENDED LECTURES AND SPEECHES AND SAW VARIOUS PERFORMANCES ON CAMPUS. BY THE TIME I GRADUATED, I HAD INTERNED AT A NEWSPAPER AND A TELEVISION STATION. I MADE FRIENDS WITH MY PEERS AND PROFESSORS AND LEARNED ABOUT MAJORS I DIDN’T KNOW EXISTED. I MET PEOPLE FROM VARIOUS BACKGROUNDS, STATES AND COUNTRIES.

WHAT I DIDN’T KNOW THEN WAS HOW UTICA COLLEGE WAS PREPARING ME TO DEAL WITH MY FUTURE CAREER IN PUBLIC RELATIONS.

ONE OF MY MOST EXCITING MOMENTS IN MY CAREER CAME WHEN I GOT TO MEET MEDIA ICON BARBARA WALTERS ON THE SET OF THE VIEW BECAUSE I HAD SECURED A CLIENT ON HER SHOW. SHE WAS SOMEONE I HAD WATCHED ON TELEVISION FOR YEARS AND I ADMIRED HER. I WAS NERVOUS TO SHAKE HER HAND BUT DID SO WITH CONFIDENCE AND EASE AND WAS PROUD THAT I HAD BEEN ABLE TO GET MY CLIENT TO BE ON HER SHOW. I HAD LEARNED HOW TO WALK A FINE LINE BETWEEN BEING PERSISTENT AND ANNOYING DURING MY MANY JOURNALISM AND PUBLIC RELATIONS EXPERIENCES AT UTICA COLLEGE AND WON OVER THE PRODUCERS ON THIS SHOW BECAUSE OF THAT SKILL.

ANOTHER INTERESTING ADVENTURE HAS BEEN TRAVELING ACROSS THE COUNTRY WITH THOUSANDS OF POUNDS OF CRANBERRIES AND THE TWO GUYS FROM THE OCEAN SPRAY COMMERCIALS TO MAKE SURE THAT CONSUMERS UNDERSTAND ALL ABOUT CRANBERRIES. I WAS EVEN LUCKY ENOUGH TO ATTEND THE 2010 WINTER OLYMPICS IN VANCOUVER, CANADA ON BEHALF OCEAN SPRAY. I TRAVELED TO VANCOUVER WITH A DESIGN TEAM, WHO HAD TO SHAPE 13 MILLION CRANBERIRES INTO THE CANADIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE LOGO TO CREATE A VISUAL SPECTACLE AND I HAD TO ENSURE THAT MY TEAM GOT GLOBAL AND NATIONAL MEDIA COVERAGE EVERY DAY FOR THREE WEEKS. THIS WAS BY FAR THE MOST THREE INTENSE WEEKS IN MY CAREER AND YOU COULD SAY MY WHOLE COLLEGE EDUCATION AND THIRTEEN PLUS YEARS WORKING AT AN PR AGENCY ALLOWED ME TO HANDLE THE PRESSURE OF THIS SITUATION WITH GRACE AND CONFIDENCE.

AND WHILE THAT ALL SOUNDS INTERESTING I AM SURE. IT WOULD MEAN NOTHING IF I WASN’T BEING TRUE TO MYSELF IN THE PROCESS

SO MY SECOND PIECE OF ADVICE IS TO

ALWAYS BE TRUE TO YOURSELF.

THE POET E.E. CUMMINGS SAID “IT TAKES COURAGE TO GROW UP AND BECOME WHO YOU REALLY ARE. “ AND I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH HIM.

SO I ASK YOU TO BE TRUE TO YOURSELF EVERYDAY OF YOUR COLLEGE CARRER AND BEYOND. BY BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF, I ASK YOU TO THINK ABOUT WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE? WHAT ARE YOUR DREAMS? NOT YOU’RE PARENTS, NOT YOUR GRANDPARENTS. NOT YOUR BOYFRIEND OR GIRLFRIEND. NOT THE TEACHER THAT TOLD YOU THAT YOU WERE GOOD AT MATH OR SCIENCE. WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHAT ARE YOUR VALUES AND YOUR MORALS? WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD WHEN YOU WALK OUT OF A ROOM?

IT MEANS THAT YOU MAY HAVE TO TELL YOUR PARENTS OR GRANDPARENTS OR TEACHERS THAT YOU KNOW YOURSELF BEST OR YOU KNOW WHAT YOU TRULY WANT TO MAJOR IN OR WHERE YOU WANT TO TRAVEL TO STUDY ABROAD OR IF YOU WANT TO JOIN A SORORITY OR FRATERNITY THAT IS DIFFERENT THAN THE ONES YOUR PARENTS HAVE JOINED. IT’S ABOUT FIGURING OUT WHAT SPORTS YOU WANT TO PLAY OR ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS YOU WANT TO GO TO WHILE YOU ARE HERE FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS, AND MAYBE THOSE ARE THE NOT THE SAME ONES YOU FRIENDS WANT TO BE PART OF.

TO ME BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF MEANS NOT COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS IN YOUR CLASSES, ON YOUR TEAMS OR IN YOUR ACTIVITIES AND NOT IN YOUR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE. IT’S FOLLOWING YOUR OWN PLAN, YOUR OWN PATH AND BEING TRUE TO THAT. IT’S ALSO ABOUT ASKING YOURSELF SOME HARD QUESTIONS AND TRULY FOCUSING ON THE ANSWERS.

I HAD AN EYE OPENING EXPERIENCE WITH THIS. I HAD THOUGHT FOR SOME TIME THAT I WANTED TO BE A CRIME REPORTER. AND WHEN I FINALLY GOT THAT JOB I HAD BEEN DREAMING ABOUT IN A BOSTON SUBURB, I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE PERFECT. THAT IS UNTIL I HAD TO COVER A MURDER CASE. I HAD TO TALK TO THE TWO DAUGHTERS OF THE 80 SOMETHING YEAR OLD WOMAN WHO HAD BEEN MURDERED. MY EDITOR FIRST ASKED ME TO DRIVE TO THEIR HOUSE AND INTERVIEW THEM IN PERSON AND I JUST COULDN’T DO IT. SO I SAID I WOULD CALL THEM ON THE PHONE. THEY SPOKE TO ME AND TOLD ME ALL ABOUT THEIR MOTHER. MY EDITOR WAS ECSTATIC. I FELT HORRIBLE. THE NEXT DAY MY FIRST AND ONLY FRONT PAGE STORY APPEARED IN THE NEWSPAPER WITH MY BYLINE. I WASN’T THRILLED THE WAY I THOUGHT I WOULD BE. IN FACT I KNEW IT WASN’T THE RIGHT JOB FOR ME. SO I HAD TO BE TRUE TO ME, NO MATTER WHO I THOUGHT THAT MAY LET DOWN.

IT WAS A HARD LESSON TO LEARN, BUT ONE THAT LEAD ME TO MY CAREER IN PUBLIC RELATIONS AND STARTED TO PREPARE ME TO NARROW DOWN WHAT I WANTED TO DO IN THE LARGER WORLD.

SO LASTLY, EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE REMIND YOURSELF TO THINK ABOUT THE WORLD BEYOND UTICA COLLEGE AND PREPARE YOURSELF FOR IT.

YOUR PROFESSORS AND ALL HERE AT THE UTICA COLLEGE COMMUNITY ARE GOING TO GIVE YOU ALL THE RIGHT TOOLS TO PREPARE FOR THE BEST FUTURE AHEAD. HOW YOU USE THOSE TOOLS AND WHAT THEY GIVE YOU WILL BE TRULY UNIQUE TO YOU.

I WOULD ENCOURAGE YOU TO START EVEN IN YOUR FRESHMAN YEAR TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE ALUMNI WHO HAVE GRADUATED FROM UTICA COLLEGE WITH YOUR SAME MAJOR AND HOLD INTERNSHIPS WHILE YOU ARE HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE FIELD YOU ARE STUDYING. TRAVEL ABOARD OR STUDY A LANGUAGE THAT YOU THINK WILL HELP YOU AFTER YOU GRADUATE. GO TO AN ART, ENTERTAINMENT OR SPORTING EVENT THAT YOU MAY NOT THINK YOU ARE INTERESTED IN. YOU MAY SURPRISE YOURSELF ABOUT WHAT YOU FIND INTERSTING.

I KNOW THAT HAPPENED TO ME TIME AND TIME AGAIN DURING MY COLLEGE CAREER. AND BY THE WAY, I LANDED MY FIRST TWO JOBS THANKS TO UTICA COLLEGE CONNECTIONS.

IN CLOSING, I ASK YOU TO HOLD ON TO THE OPTIMISM AND EXCITEMENT YOU HAVE WITH TODAY AND KNOWING THAT UTICA COLLEGE IS THE PLACE THAT WILL ALLOW YOU TO ACHIEVE YOUR DREAMS. ENJOY THE NEXT FOR YEARS AT UTICA COLLEGE. MAKE THE MOST OF IT, BE TRUE TO YOURSELF AND PREPARE YOURSELF FOR THE WORLD BEYOND UTICA COLLEGE AND OUR COMMON FUTURE. BEST OF LUCK TO YOU ALL IN THE NEXT FOUR YEARS.


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