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The President and Vice-President of California Lutheran University, distinguished guests, members of the faculty, fellow students, friends, family members, ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to stand before you on this evening of May 17, 2013, as we embrace this special occasion in the history of California Lutheran University. It is eccentric for someone not familiar with public speaking to stand up and become the center of attention for such a huge crowd for a few minutes. Perhaps it would be a short time for you, but to me this seems like an eternity.

First of all, I would like to thank California Lutheran University for according me this unforgettable opportunity. Not only has the university given me an extraordinary honor, but the five days of trepidation, fear and consternation I have tolerated and carried on with at the thought of giving this commencement speech on this graduation day has made me lose weight and grow thinner than how I was in my fifth grade. In fact, it is a “give-speech-to-lose-weight” affair! In addition to my funny name, I also now have a skinny body. Now all I have to do is take deep breath, peek at the graduation banner and convince myself that I am at one of the most memorable events in the history of California Lutheran University. I have learned that delivering a speech in front of such as a huge crowd is a greater responsibility than being the president of America. Before I came to this podium, I cast back to a speech delivered by Steve Jobs at a graduation ceremony at Stanford University on in 2005 and tried to recall every word he said, but it turned out that my memory has gone for a holiday after the academic hustles and tussles.

I have been asking myself what I wish I had known as an international student from Saudi Arabia during my stay in the U.S., and what important lessons I have learned during the one year of academic toil at California Lutheran University.

Firstly, as we gathered together to celebrate our academic success, I would like to thank the California Lutheran University community and the American people for providing a conducive learning environment that encourages and embraces diversity. As we all know, the relationship between America and the Middle East over the past few years has been as sour as vinegar. I was expecting a harsh reception when I first came to America in 2010 for my further studies. Strangely, the people of America gave me a very warm welcome that surpassed my expectations. I was left wondering whether the U.S. and Middle East countries have entered into a political marriage to stop the hostility between the two regions. Looking back to spring 2012 when I registered as a student in this university gives me an amazing experience. When I joined California Lutheran University on February 27, 2012, for my master’s degree in public policy and administration, every student wanted to shares their experiences with me. For the few months that I have been in this university, I have learnt lots of values, beliefs and cultural practices of the American people. Needless to restate, I am highly impressed with how students and faculty members of California Lutheran University community embrace diversity.

Secondly, as we stand on the threshold of what most university students refer to as the bridge to real life, I want to affirm the crucial importance of appreciation. During my stay at California Lutheran University, I usually had to strike an uneasy balance between academic life and social life. I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do was to enjoy life. However, my advisor, Dr. David Powel convinced me that nothing comes on a silver plate. He persuaded me that I had work hard in order to have quality life in the future. Dr. Powel also assisted me during my research projects. In that regard, I would like to take this precious opportunity to thank Dr. Powel for his invaluable advice and tireless assistance during my stay at California Lutheran University. Every day of my stay at this university reminds me of how incredibly fortunate I was, to study in an institution where lecturers are willing and ready to assist students. I would also like to thank the Saudi Arabian government for awarding me a scholarship that has enabled me further my education. In addition, special thanks should go to my family and my younger brother Nofal in particular, for their consistent encouragement and support, and for being by my side every time I was faced with a challenge.

Thirdly, I would like to encourage my fellow students to aim higher in order to succeed in life. What I fear most in life is neither unemployment nor economic crisis, but failure. I also believe that none of us is more gifted or privileged than others. Thus, we all have equal chances of succeeding in life. This can be confirmed by the fact that you are today graduating from this University, hence have gone up your academic ladder. I am certain that you might have been driven by the fear of failure and desire for success and that is what has made you this successful today. Life has up and downs just like mountains, and as humans, we are driven to move forward and upward by the desire to succeed. Envisage yourselves reaching the top of the mountain regardless of the hurdles and obstacles you may face. In my view, our lecturers have not only shown us the right path for succeeding in life, but have also shown us how to walk along that path.

Lastly, I would also urge you to go out there and bring change into the world. Let us strive at changing the world, let us impact other people’s lives. I am sure that the knowledge we have acquired from this university is the most valuable tool that we can use to find solutions to the various problems faced in our societies.

I am also certain that one hour from now you will not remember a word in this speech. Therefore, I would request you to forget about the words, but do not forget about the message. Thank you for listening and I wish you the best in your future endeavors.

Code: Sample20

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