BY: TERRELL FINNER (’15 H&HD)
We have shown again that we are capable of succeeding despite the negative stereotypes about people of color that are so often perpetuated in today’s society and in the media – WE CAN AND CONTINUE TO SUCCEED.
As a 2015 graduate I know what it is like to be right at the cusp of arguably your greatest achievement to date. Graduating from Penn State was one of the most bittersweet moments of my life thus far. On one hand I did not want to leave the amazing circle of brothers and sisters that I had grown so close to during my years there, but on the other hand I knew it was time for me to move forward to the next chapter in my life.
In a few days you all, like me, will have to step into a completely different environment than the one you have become accustomed to. It may be a new job, graduate school, or even taking some time to figure out exactly what it is that you want to do (which is totally fine). Penn State was your “practice” before the “game.” You will now have to leave the comfort of Happy Valley and be sent across the land to impact positive change, motivate others, and become successful professionals.
Your countless nights spent studying for exams, typing papers, and planning events have not been in vain. You may not realize it right away, but your Penn State education has truly prepped you to do great things. I urge you all to never forget the privilege that it is to have attended such an amazing institution and to have worked hard to earn a college degree. Furthermore, I ask that you all never forget the amount of power that has been afforded to you simply by the virtue of you being a person of color who now bears a college degree from one of the top universities in the country.
So, a few short words of advice based off my first year post-graduation:
1.) Never sell yourself short.
2.) If you can think it and you believe it, then you can do it!
3.) Go with the flow and be flexible. Maybe things will go as you plan, maybe they won’t. I truly believe this as my first year away from college has been nowhere near predictable.
4.) Hard times don’t last, eventually you will look back at them and laugh.
5.) Lastly, follow your passion. Your passion will always guide you in the right direction.
Again, I am so proud of you all and thankful to have personally known many of you. Walk across that stage with your head held high, keeping in mind the possibilities of a limitless future. We are…
(P.S. The Black graduate photo was amazing! Special thanks to all that worked together to make that happen!)
Terrell Finner is a 2015 graduate of the Pennsylvania State University. He obtained his Bachelors of Science in Health Policy and Administration. While at Penn State he was involved in various organizations and was a dedicated community servant. He is currently a postbaccalaureate premedical student at Columbia University. His future aspirations are to become a medical doctor and community/social activist.