Alexandra Fischer focused her studies and activities on developing leadership skills, hoping to make a difference in people’s lives. She was named Mentor of the Month by the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh and spent time as the UW Oshkosh women’s lacrosse club team president and men’s lacrosse club team manager.
The following is the speech Fischer delivered as a student speaker during UW Oshkosh’s 146th spring commencement:
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My grandmother, while I was growing up, held the responsibility of making sure my siblings and I got to school each day. I spent those mornings telling my grandmother how much I couldn’t wait for certain events to come sooner because I was so excited. My grandmother however didn’t have the same excitement as me. She always responded, “Alex, don’t wish your life away.” Her response always frustrated me. Why not wish for the good days to come sooner? But it’s today, standing in front of you, that I realize that my grandmother was right, you shouldn’t wish your life away.
How many minutes did you spend in class wishing it would be over? How many hours have you spent dreaming about the weekend? How many days have you spent with the “Sunday scaries?” I can’t tell you how many minutes, hours and days we’ve collectively spent thinking about the end, more less hoping that it would come sooner. But I can tell you, that my grandmother was right. I’ve been thinking about what she said and how I should’ve listened to her sooner. Today, I want to leave with you three pieces of advice that are fundamental in not wishing your life away and why it’s so important.
First, don’t wish for your journey to be easier. I have always struggled in academics growing up. But my first year of college was anything but easy. It felt like the last straw for me when I was diagnosed with a learning disability. As a student with four more lurking years ahead of me before graduation, this challenge made me question if I could achieve my goals. We have all had experiences that made us doubt ourselves and made our journey a lot more difficult. It would have been easy for us to call it quits. But in these moments of despair we realized what we were capable of. If you were to look back at your individual challenges and how you overcame them, you’d see how the struggle shaped you. You see, these challenges in our journey are necessary to show you how resilient you really are.
Second, don’t wish for certain parts of your journey not to happen. A year ago, fear was staring me in the face. It was the night before I left for Alternative Break to do hurricane recovery work with 10 other strangers. I was literally sick to my stomach just thinking about getting on that plane. There was so much unknown in the journey ahead. But if I had made the decision that night not to go based on my fears, I would not be the person I am today. The work I did there taught me how important it is to help your neighbors. Whether they are next door or an ocean away. I’m sure you have wished something not to happen too. There were times that we almost let fear take control. But that leap of faith you took, brought you to where you are today. Think about the lessons those experiences taught you and how they helped mold you into who you are. These moments are necessary in order to grow into who we are meant to be.
Third, don’t wish for your journey to be over. Think about all the times you really wanted this experience to be over. You may have wanted college to be over when you were spending hours at the library, battling bank accounts that didn’t agree with impulsive grocery shopping, losing one too many student IDs, stacking up full-time credits while working and having a social life, figuring out how expensive laundry detergent is, getting yet another parking ticket, fighting off the worst hangovers of our lives, or when you were cooped up in your house navigating online classes. We spent most of this time wishing it would be over. But they are now moments we wish we could have back. Because we realized they were moments that made us appreciate the triumphs a little more.
My grandmother was right. Don’t wish your life away because soon you’ll be wishing for more time. This hit home for me when this pandemic started. As our classes went virtual and businesses shut down, I realized that I wish I had more time. I wish we all took it in a little bit more. I wish we could hold onto some of our college moments a little bit longer. I wish we could sit in that classroom, one last time. This pandemic is a reminder to all of us, to live fully in each moment because you never know how quickly it can all change.
These moments, the good, the bad and the ugly, are moments that we prove we can rise to the occasion. They are a testament to what we are capable of and a testament to who we are. Our Titan community took this opportunity to reshape how our campuses function and navigated new ways to come together. We are part of a community that when the going gets tough, we get tougher. I hope you will each carry this Titan tradition with you as you start your new journey.
So, going forward, Titans, don’t wish for your journey to be easier, don’t wish for it to not happen and don’t wish for it to be over. Appreciate every moment that you are given and all that lies ahead of you. And as you now embark on the next part of your journey, I wish you wonderful lives, I wish you to make your mark, I wish you resilience, I wish you growth, I wish you triumphs and most importantly, I wish you to take in each moment of the journey. This is your life Titans, don’t wish it away. Congratulations Class of 2020, we did it!