Oberlin Blogs

Dear Graduate,

May 26, 2016

Alexandria Cunningham ’16

Dear Graduate,

As you prepare to move all of your being--your heart, your mind, your feet, your passions--from one place to many others, I hope you keep in mind a few things. Firstly, college is a trip and, you know this, personally. I have grown with you over these past four years and seen you reach new levels of building and breaking. I have witnessed the power of your strength, love and wisdom bring people together and heal communities.

Monday, May 23, 2016 at 9:30 am is your day but it also belongs to those who have come before you, stood beside you and will come after you. The guidance of your given family, the immeasurable support of your chosen family, the sanity keeping of your friends, the love of your mentors and advisors, the dreams created for you by community elders, the inspiration younger students gave you--these are your treasures of graduation.

In this space, I want to give you two more things to ground you as you march forth from this day. The first is a list of twenty "to-knows" you wrote for yourself twelve hours before graduating. The second is a prayer, a public affirmation of self that you wrote for yourself nearly twelve hours after graduating. Share these sentiments with all you come across because the saving and healing that comes from these words do not and should never only belong to you.

Continue to be any and everything; be the dream, the reality, the catalyst and the change. Be the work, the power, the creative and the sharp-witted. Always, always, always... be you.

Twenty "To-Knows" Before Graduating

  • Do not spend your life chasing after the sun, stars, moon, heavens and the wonders of the world. You are these things to yourself and to people that love you.
  • Hold on tightly to this feeling of self-awareness that you have now.
  • Celebrate yourself!
  • Don't interrupt compliments, praise or affirmation. Stand tall and savor the words.
  • Hug generously, often and like you mean it.
  • Let folks tell you their dreams for you; those whispers of "I feel like you will [continue to] be somebody" are prayers going out in the world for you. Let them speak well of you and your legacy.
  • Smile, laugh, compliment and be present, even when you're exhausted.
  • Be present and attentive in the spaces you find yourself in and with those folks.
  • Drop wisdom like raindrops. You are at your most reflective and wise in moments such as these. Do not keep that insight just to yourself.
  • Feel all your feels and keep it real. Do not run from your emotions, embrace them.
  • Reflect in the moment and log your time however you best see fit.
  • Go back to the memory chest and unpack what you can, as you can. Be patient here.
  • Call on your Village, home community and chosen family. Speak them in all that you do.
  • Speak your truth even if it seems like a downer moment. Why? You've sacrificed to be here in this moment and, though your silence will not protect you, your truth has the power to save someone else.
  • Acknowledge your growth and your previous versions. Cherish the journey.
  • Carry yourself forward with the blessings, prayers and well wishes of your support team.
  • Ask for what you need--now is the time of essence to let folks help to get you to your next point in life.
  • Sing and dance like you are the headliner. This is your moment... shine!
  • Tell your anxiety that's always with you it's coming along for the ride. It is about you.
  • Go forth in love.
  • Spirits, Magic and Commencement | A Prayer of Wonder

    Spirits are rejoicing. Prayers are resounding. Visions are evolving to reality. Praise loud, today is a day of magic.

    Who knew but God what time can do?! He saw me through changes in course of study, embracing my natural hair, battling the physical impacts of stress, death threats on my communities, loving partners and telling them I love me better, crying in advisors' offices, preparing to drop out every week and go dance for the dollars, not eating or sleeping for days on end, feeling alone, asking for help and rising as a person who can help and affect change.

    I believe someone prayed over my spirit before I arrived saying "to whom much is given, much is required." I've been needed--almost exhaustingly so--and it has been the highlight of my time here. I'm a mentor, a sister, a mom to my babies as well as a turn up twin, a shenanigans buddy and a will-cut-up-on-your-behalf best friend.

    Grounding rod. Truth teller. Creative. Leader. Scholar. Writer. Researcher. Protector. These are the words bestowed on me by my chosen families now but always apparent to my ancestors; to my Village. The magic of today is not that I got my degree (it's more). It's the journey.

    Today, I feel connected to your energies and realize I always have been. Your "nah girl don't do that," your "go 'head baby, you can do it," and your healing powers that protect my spirit have built me.

    This body is powerful and so is this mind. This mouth is loud and calls out foolishness. It also weaves words together like warm quilts protecting loved ones from the cold. These hands--get thrown lol--but they comfort. These thighs signify abundance in their thickness. These feet have run to danger and uncertainty to get my babies, my family. These shoulders bounce at parties to music that I quote in theses.

    All this to say, I am the magic of generations continuing to release in the world. I am my truth and I am love. I am the future, I am the hope, I am a part of the answer. I am smooth with it and I am ‪#‎BlackandDegreed‬. Spirits are rejoicing. Asé!!

    With all the love,

    Similar Blog Entries