On behalf of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, I welcome all of you—parents, students, family members, friends, faculty, and staff--to this graduation celebration for the students of the Department of Theatre and Film Studies. This is an important moment for all of us. If you think about it in a literal sense, graduation is a strange word. It suggests chemical or physical measurement. It also suggests advancement, but towards what? Graduation is certainly a milestone (another interesting term that suggests we measure our lives with road markers, one mile, two miles, and so on). Because of its association with education, we also know that graduation means the conferring of academic degrees. Graduation is therefore an ending, a culmination, and a commemoration of what you’ve learned and achieved during the last four or five years of your time here at the University of Georgia.
I don’t like this term, graduation. I prefer a better word. It’s the term commencement. It also means the granting of academic degrees. It derives from an Old French word commencier, that itself derives from Latin. It means beginnings. Today you begin. You are marking the end of your studies at UGA, and the beginning of a new and exciting, challenging, frightening, inspiring and hopeful period in your existence. I wish you good fortune and satisfying, impactful lives that leave beneficial marks on our world. So as you come to this ending, and stand on the verge of this beginning, I congratulate all of you.