"How you understand something depends on your point of reference," said Alison Overholt, editor in chief of espnW and vice president and editor in chief of ESPN The Magazine, during her graduation address at Klein College's spring 2018 ceremony.
The words were written on a sign in her 7th grade social studies class in Hong Kong and have stuck with her ever since. Klein College's group of graduates, who filled McGonigle Hall along with their friends and family in May, come from diverse backgrounds—all providing their own perspectives and points of reference. Now that they had all finished their degrees, whether they be bachelor's, master's or doctorates, it was time they got their due.
"There aren't many times where it's okay to be totally full of yourselves, but today is one of those days," said Klein College Dean David Boardman. "Feel free to brush the dirt off your shoulders."
To the graduates, this day was incredibly meaningful and they were finally able to see their hard work pay off.
"I'm 36," said Lindsay Schneider, receiving her degree in advertising. "This is 12 years in the making. It means everything."
For student speaker Finnian Saylor, a Diamond Award winner, it means leaving the place that first allowed him to come out as gay the day he arrived.
"On my first night on campus," Saylor told the crowd, "I felt comfortable enough to be myself because of you."
Just before the graduates received their diplomas, they heard from journalism professor Edward Trayes, who received the Klein College Tribute Award after over 50 years of service to the college. He reflected on his time spent in the Klein College community.
"Seemingly, there are dozens of Klein College colleagues...who go above and beyond," Trayes said, later adding, "We work together, we support each other."
Afterward, the graduates walked individually across the stage, and an array of names and faces were heard and seen by the crowd—underscoring Overholt's point about different perspectives. In her address, she emphasized the importance of using your differences to your advantage. Part of her childhood was spent as a taller-than-average girl in Hong Kong, where she used her size to her advantage on the basketball court. Today, she uses her voice as a woman to provide a unique point of view in a male-dominated field.
"When you are the only, remember that your difference is not something to file down or soften away or make invisible for the comfort of others in the room," she said. "Take pride in and be confident about the value of your unique perspective."
Congratulations to the class of 2018.