I wrote this speech in the hopes of being picked to speak at BU’s 2013 COM Commencement, and even though I wasn’t chosen, I feel as if I would be letting myself down if I didn’t take a moment to share how much my time at BU has impacted my life. So here goes:
“Good morning, everyone. My name is Casey Rackham, and I’m a graduate of COM with a degree in journalism. I was born at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan and raised on Vantage Avenue in Studio City, California, but my time at Boston University is what has made me the strong woman you see standing here today.
Before I continue, I’d like to say thanks to my family. To my parents, thank you for raising me in a home filled with laughter, love and unconditional support. And to my sister, who just finished her first year in COM, I might be the older one, but I look up to you more than you know.
One of the most brilliant men in history, a man who happens to be one of my favorite scientists, Bill Nye the Science Guy, once said, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” He’s right. We can all learn from each other, because whether you’re willing to admit it or not, you don’t know everything. I can attest to that. I’ve learned more from my peers, friends, and professors during these fantastically insane four years than I ever could have dreamed possible.
In magazine writing and editing, the always impeccably dressed Professor Phyllis Karas taught me that the only way you will become a better writer is if you read everything you can get your hands on. That piece of advice was how I finally got my mom to believe that Rolling Stone magazine was required reading.
In newswriting, the bitingly sarcastic Professor Jon Klarfeld taught me that your writing can always be improved, even if you think it can’t. I thought I was the worst writer after I got my first article back from Klarfeld. It looked like a red pen massacre had taken place on the paper. At first I saw it as a sign of failure, but then I realized that my writing wasn’t bad, it was just that I could make it even better.
Professor Carolyn Clark’s intro to advertising class taught me that I’m not good at advertising. The class taught me that I’m not always going to excel at everything. And I’m OK with that.
And in media ethics, Professor Dick Lehr, who I think we all know from his published works on the infamous Whitey Bulger, taught me to choose my words wisely because even the tiniest preposition can change the way we perceive things.
To my friends, and you know who you are, you are some of the funniest, kindest, weirdest, and smartest people I have ever had the honor of dancing across Comm. Ave. with at four in the morning. I honestly don’t know what my world would be if I didn’t have all of you to laugh with, to cry with, and to talk with. We’re all more than just friends, we’re family. But I’m not going to continue talking about you guys because I’m trying to keep it together. Just know that I love you all.
To my peers, you have taught me that something magical can happen when you put a group of people together who are passionate about their careers and dreams. I see a room filled with soon to be journalists, broadcasters, editors, photojournalists, copywriters, waiters (let’s be real, have you seen the job market right now?), advertising execs, public relations professionals, screenwriters, directors, and producers. If the thought of that doesn’t get you excited for your future, then I don’t know what will. In fact, I would hire all of you on the spot. Unfortunately, I’ve been told that I do not have the power to do that.
You all truly amaze me. I’ve never had so much confidence in a group of people. When I look out into the audience I know in my gut that we’re all going to do tremendous things in this world. We have the drive, the ambition, and thanks to BU, the education to make us go far in life. And I’m pretty sure that last line is from one of my cover letters.
Now, sometimes you might lose confidence in yourself. You might feel like you don’t know where your life is headed or worry that you’re not as successful as the person next to you. I know I’ve felt that way many more times than I’d care to admit. But whenever you start to lose your balance, remember that you’re a graduate of Boston University College of Communication. You are a communications aficionado. You can write headlines, create slogans, correct grammatical errors and edit reels in your sleep. I’m not worried about any of you, because this world will always need people who can communicate effectively. This world will always need storytellers. And we are those storytellers. So let’s all get up out of our seats and go figure out what our own stories are. Thank you, everyone. You’ve all meant so much to me.”
And then knowing me, I probably would have tripped while I was walking off the stage. But hey, I guess I still have the chance to do that when they call my name.