BW Ann Marie -6.jpg



The Power of Words

Graduation remarks delivered on December 13, 2020 for the Fall Class of 2020 at Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York. 


Our greatest asset as humans is designing and delivering messages.


We converse, make connections and form relationships by communicating with each other in a wide variety of ways. And we do so in an environment where a state or fact of existing, or being present seems to count for everything.


We engage because of the promise we find in using our words, written and spoken as well as through signs and symbols. They can make a tremendous difference, both personally and professionally.


Think about it, we engage by:

  • Reading and writing quotes, poems and literary passages.

  • Designing media literacy campaigns.

  • Performing dramatic works.

  • Naming constellations. 

  • Writing an editorial.

  • Creating meaning through charts and graphs.

  • Broadcasting a play by play analysis.

  • Sharing encouraging words to motivate.

  • Projecting market performance.

  • Reporting on an injustice.

  • Explaining how a root takes hold.

  • Leading difficult conversations about equity and inclusion.

  • Presenting at conferences.

  • Expressing compassion and empathy for others. 

  • Dancing across a stage.

  • Claiming authenticity by changing a name.

  • Standing in protest for a cause,

  • Delivering an argument in a court of law. 

  • Framing a message for social media.

  • Casting your vote. 

  • Broadcasting a play.

  • Listening to a heartbeat.

  • Composing, performing or listening to music. 

  • Reflecting on your progress by journaling.

  • Teaching someone to read.

  • Using body movement to establish wellbeing.

  • Telling a story in a podcast or a motion picture.

  • Capturing an image on canvas.

  • And in so many other wonderful ways.


You arrived in your first year with your values, interests and abilities and through the individuals you met here and the curriculum (some four years later) your vocabulary grew, your world view may have shifted, you discovered new things, you connected with people unlike yourself and your skillsets increased. 


And your progress was made evident by your expression of this transformation, inside and outside this place. 


The power of words remains constant across time. Just look at the staying power of music (vinyl and electronic), the continued publication of books (hard copy and online), or our obsession with podcasts and news as evidence of this.


Words make us a better person, they can also bring change, necessitate action, inform and educate as well as create possibility.


It is a freedom we should never take for granted.


As such, know who you are in this moment, what you are capable of and where you are headed. Know that every day is new and each experience is rich. And that no matter the hour you live in there’s a tomorrow that will deliver more. 


In this place called progress you are as close as an invitation and only as far away as you let time slip by. A physical place may shift and bend with the changing times and trends (or pandemic), but what makes it wholly a place to return to remains the same.


Keep in mind that not every leg of your journey in life will set you in motion. That the lags you experience may simply be the rest stops that determine what lies ahead, stays behind, or is avoided altogether. That sometimes you have to trust like the effort will never fail even when common sense says otherwise. And most certainly look to the crushing moments of disappointment or the roar of laughter to find your way.


By design you hold the future in your hands and today is simply a milestone to remind you that you have two hands to hold wonder with and the power of words to make a difference, for yourself and for others.


Here’s to every word, symbolic gesture and expression you utter Fall Class of 2020!


~ Ann-Marie Adams, December 13, 2020 "The Power of Words ~ Remarks for Fall 2020 Graduates at Ithaca College"

[Several of the quotes used in this speech were generated from my collection of "WordStrings" prose. See link in footer].