Published on Jan. 1, 2019
Updated on Jan. 7, 2019
When asked to summarize the Salute to Excellence 2018, I was at a loss for words. How does one describe an event that was filled with memories and smiling faces of the past; but still looking towards the future? How does one describe the feeling of being present at an event celebrating individuals who have the potential to change the world?
Fortunately, I was able to find one. Perseverance, the continued persistence and resilience to accomplish a goal, course of action, or purpose despite the obstacles one may encounter. A word repeated throughout the evening.
This was the point of emphasis of David Mitchell, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Ruth L. Hulston Professor of Law toast of the evening.
With raised glasses in the air all listening with smiles, Dr. Mitchell mentioned that everyone in the room stands on the shoulders of giants and we are the goals and the dreams of our ancestors.
He continued on by mentioning to the graduates that their their ancestors worked for and all the obstacles they faced were so they could get to where they are today and make change for a brighter tomorrow.
They are the product of their own historic perseverance. This was echoed throughout the rest of the evening. The theme of perseverance continued with the keynote speaker coming to the podium. Daphanie Bibbs, Mizzou Alumna and educator, spoke on true character and how it rises in the face of adversity.
Bibbs briefly detailed her life, noting the times when she felt at her lowest, moments when she did not know where to turn, or what her next move would be as a college student.
Yet, at the end of her speech, she emphasized that at the moments when she felt broken, were the same moments she used as stepping stones to get where she is today.
Closing she addressed that the strength and power is within them, and being at Salute should be a friendly reminder of strength and power.
Finally, the message of service wrapped up the whole evening. Once we persevere through obstacles, we have a responsibility to make sure others can do the same by serving them.
CASE graduate assistant Amand Hardiman, who gave the closing words of the evening, highlighted that only 32% of the country currently has a bachelor’s degree. And yet such a prestigious honor as a degree means nothing without service.
In closing, Hardiman left the graduates with they should not only continue to persevere and move forward but seek ways to give back and increase that 32% within their communities and circles.
I may just be a freshman, but it was clear to see what was taking place. The Salute to Excellence was not a farewell to the graduates of Mizzou; it was a “Thank you” to the perseverance of the past, and a “Hello” to the change to come of the future. Congratulations to you, December 2018 CASE Scholar Graduates.