Members of the University community are invited to suggest a speaker for the 2019 Commencement. The speaker is chosen through an annual selection process that starts when students, staff, faculty, alumni and others in the community offer nominees via the…
University Scholar Speaks for the Students
Molly Linhorst ’14 poses the question, “Where were you when you when you felt most a part of something larger than yourself?”
Here are the contents of her speech:
“Three months ago I found myself in a sea of orange. I was a part of the record-breaking crowd cheering for C.J. Fair and Baye Moussa Keita, calling their first names as if we knew them personally. We cheered uniformly. Same hope, same loyalty.
Later that day I was at Chuck’s, a favorite college bar, when one SU fan learned that Arizona lost its first game, making the Orange the nation’s top basketball team. She held up a poster on which she had scribbled, ‘We’re Number 1!’ We were all bleeding orange that night.
Where were you when you felt most a part of something larger than yourself?
Maybe you were with your a cappella group, remixing Drake to fit your personal style. Maybe, like me, you were with your close friends from your freshman year floor, sharing in Otto’s Army’s traditional cheers. Maybe you sat in a favorite professor’s class, debating profound social issues, or in a lab, discovering new protein binding patterns.
At Syracuse we’ve all been a part of something big.
My mentor, Professor Stuart Thorson, told me about a time he was a part of something big. Professor Thorson, along with others from SU and the Korea Society, was trying to engage North Korea and build trust between our countries through academic science cooperation. This unique diplomatic project originated here at Syracuse University.
In fact, SU is the only U.S. university to have such sustained ties with the country.
When Professor Thorson went through North Korea’s intimidating immigration process, the official asked him, stone faced, why he was there. And he replied that he came with a delegation from Syracuse University. What came next was a surprise.
The officer looked at Professor Thorson, smiled, and said ‘Go Orange!’
Orange is not just a color, and SU is not just a campus. This is a family, uniting generations of students and faculty and all of the lives they’ve touched.
We are a part of something big. Our orange family extends, believe it or not, to that customs room in Pyongyang, North Korea. From New York to L.A., from Germany to South Africa to China.
Syracuse knows no borders. We are members of this family, and we are the caretakers of our family name. As soon-to-be alumni, we are responsible for applying our Syracuse education to our diverse passions.
To act thoughtfully. To live full, vibrant lives. To make this family proud.
In December, I stood near the national Pan Am 103 memorial cairn with Remembrance Scholars of past and present, memorializing some of our Orange family lost over Lockerbie, Scotland. Bagpipers accompanied fresh eulogies to those lost in a heartless act of violence. In response to this bombing, our orange family grew. We stitched together two communities, Syracuse and Lockerbie, that span a wide ocean.
Twenty-five years of scholars and friendships have followed. This tradition is one example of the vision of the Orange family: a vision that builds relationships and opportunity from tragedy and fear, a vision that applies principles learned at SU to shape a peaceful and dynamic global community.
We are a part of something big. As students, we’ve already begun honoring this family. Doing big things. Our entrepreneurship classes have worked alongside Syracuse nonprofits to form sustainable ventures that serve the homeless and hungry of our city.
In response to the case of Trayvon Martin, our classmates rallied and engaged the community in conversation about race in America. My upstairs neighbor has revived patients with Syracuse University Ambulance. Our friends have engineered collapsible sailboats that have the potential to revolutionize sailing. Let’s keep going. No matter our distance from the Quad, show what it means to be Orange.
Collaborate, travel, take risks, build relationships and always wear orange on game days. Show the world that real men, women, educators, veterans, reporters, engineers, nurses, we all wear orange.
Congratulations, now go make your family proud, Class of 2014!”