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A person in graduation regalia is seated up against a grey wall. Behind them there is a vase of white, purple, and pink flowers. A small, translucent black, box in the corner of the screen with white text reads: Brontte Hwang
Hi, everyone. I'm so excited to be here with you today, on behalf of the sustainable international development graduating Class of 2021. Beloved Heller family, friends, loved ones, pets and esteemed guests thank you for celebrating with us today, the countless hours of group projects, papers, lectures, and readings that we've overcome to get our Master's degrees today. And thank you for being there with us through it all. And don't worry if you need to ask us one more time what sustainable international development means, we'll gladly explain.
My fellow graduates, our journey at Heller may have come to an end, but the friendships we've made have not. I mean this with all my heart, when I say that it has been an absolute privilege meeting and getting to know you over the last two years. I can honestly say that our SID cohort is full of the kindest realest, most genuinely heartfelt people I know.
We are truly a vibrant and caring community that comes from all walks of life, and around the world. And it is with absolute gratitude, that I can confess you all are the reason I chose to come to Heller. You all carry with you, tremendous stories of how you came to Heller, of the sacrifices you and your families have had to make, and continue to make. The dreams and visions for a better world that you bring, and the voices and stories of your communities back home. That is what brings us all here today.
Sustainable international development doesn't just mean we work in NGOs, or nonprofits or the UN, although some of us might or already have, but it means we look at the whole picture. We've all had experiences that brought us to Heller, because we realize we can't solve one issue without addressing the entire ecosystem. We can't just look at education, or women's rights, or environmental issues alone because they're all interconnected. And that means we've got a lot of work ahead of us. But fortunately for us, we're in this together. Like different parts of one body, and there's no one I'd rather do this with than you all to make the world a more beautiful place for everyone.
Now, before we go out into the big wide world, I want to leave you, my friends and classmates, with a word of encouragement. Have no fear. Whether you have a job lined up already, or have no idea where you're going next, just remember you are capable of so much more than you know. And even when you feel like you can't, you're not in this alone. The road ahead will be tough, conflicts will happen, plans will be derailed,
Hwang leans in towards the camera, then continues:
we will be put into groups with people we don't like.
We can't control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond, and we can choose to respond in love. I'm not talking about a lovey-dovey kind of love, but the substantial action driven kind of love I've seen on display at Heller. For our communities, our friends and families, and for the world. The kind of love that clothes people, feeds people, and saves people. Perfect love that drives out fear.
People often think that the opposite of love is hate. But in reality, it's fear, fear of the unknown, fear of what others may think, fear that things won't turn out the way we expected, or fear that we are not enough. And that paralyzes us from being who we're meant to be, and loving others for who they are. But let me echo some brave voices of the past to remind you today, we must not be afraid, because we were born to do this. If not us, then who? If not now, then when? Friends, this is it, we've equipped ourselves with the knowledge, skills, and experience we need, and now we're ready.
Hwang excitedly throws their arms out, then continues:
So get up, do your victory dance!
Hwang pulls their arms in, making two loose fists they offer to the camera, then continues:
Savor the moment, and truly celebrate. And then, get your battle cries ready. Because you and me, we're going to change the world.