Christina Xue graduation speech: ‘Expect and embrace change’

Christina Xue, BSBA ’21, was the student speaker at the virtual undergraduate programs graduation recognition ceremony on May 21, 2021, selected by her peers. Here is what she had to say to her fellow graduates.

Thank you, Dean Taylor, for the kind introduction. Students, faculty, family and friends: I am incredibly honored to be the student speaker for our graduating class of 2021 and to share a bit of my story and reflections with all of you.

When I first came to WashU— I was definitely apprehensive. Being born and raised in New Jersey, I was convinced I wanted to stay in my Northeast bubble forever. Coming to the Midwest, which seemed like the great unknown, had never been part of my life plans. I honestly couldn’t even place Missouri or St. Louis on a map. But—I learned to adapt, as we all did.

Now, after reflecting upon the past four years at WashU, I’m glad that I left comfort zone. This university has taught me a multitude of lessons, but one of the most important ones is to expect and embrace change. Change can be big or small. For example, change is realizing that College Hall is now called Risa Commons. Change is declaring a history minor and realizing I have to do hundreds of pages of reading every week. Change is when, at the age of 4, my mom told me I would be a big sister and I didn’t quite understand what that meant. Change is watching my older sister get married this past year. Change is immigrating to a new country, as my parents did when they were only a few years older than I am now. Change is graduating.

‘The vitality of my support network’

People often say that one’s college years are some of the formative in their life, a platitude I find to hold true. I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all evolved in some regard during the past few years— in the way we think, our beliefs and values, the knowledge we hold. For some of us, our sense of fashion and hairstyles have definitely changed for the better.

And of course, this past year alone has been the most transformative that our generation has and probably will ever, witness during our lifetimes. In a time where the unthinkable became reality, I realized the vitality of my support network during these moments of change and unpredictability. My family, roommates, and close friends have served not only as a pillar of stability, but as a motivating force in encouraging me to pursue my dreams and having the courage to step outside my comfort zone. They are the ones I laugh with about nothing and everything, the ones I cry to when a MEC exam didn’t go too well, and the ones I go to when I need brutally honest advice.

I hope that you all have found your support network during these past four years, and that you have a deeper appreciation for those people after the tragedies and hardships this past year has brought us. I hope that this support network follows you after we graduate, because while the grades and assignments we have may fade in our memories, the experiences and relationships we’ve made can be everlasting.

‘Resilience, courage and strength’

As we graduate and begin our journey as real adults, I hope that change takes us in exciting directions, be it grad school, jobs, or new locations. I also know, that after this past year, we are uniquely equipped to handle change however it may manifest itself. We have shown resilience, displayed courage, and have become stronger as a WashU community through the hardships and pandemic that have plagued our country and world at large.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” As this new dawn approaches, I hope that WashU has prepared you with the strength and intellectual curiosity you need to embrace change and leave your own mark on the world. I hope that life is full of change for you in the best ways possible.

Thank you.

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