I am honored to stand here today as a potential commencement speaker. For those of you that don’t know me, I am Silvia Sanchez and I’m an environmental policy student. Now, I don’t know if I am an adequate representative of all of the programs here at MIIS. In fact, I don’t know if anybody could accurately represent such a diverse school, but I do know that I have something that I also see in all of you: hope.
All of us are here today with the hope that we can change the world. For some of you, that means fighting terrorism. For others, it means defending human rights or resolving the world’s conflicts. Those in my program believe in protecting the environment, and the many translators out there hope to make the world’s content just a little bit more accessible. We’re all following our passion in the hopes that we can make a change in the world for the better.
Let me tell you a brief story. My story. When I was in high school, and college, I thought I had plenty of time to figure things out. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” Even after college, I still didn’t really feel like I’d found “it” in my job. I remember scouring the internet and dreaming about taking a year off to travel the world, becoming a yoga instructor in Mexico, or a cowgirl in Australia, but I’d quickly move on to the next crazy idea. In short, I was bored. I had a traditionally good job, amazing coworkers, great friends, I was comfortable, but there was something missing. I felt like I could do so much more with my life and I struggled to figure out what it was that I was looking for. I wanted to find that spark in my life. And thankfully, I found it two years ago. I am happier now in my career than I have ever been before and that happiness has translated into all other aspects of my life. I know I’m already making a difference and I am so excited for the future when I get to witness all of the incredible things this class is going to accomplish.
For many of us, this is at least the third time we’ve graduated. We’ve all heard the line that “commencement means the beginning of something.” And yes, that’s certainly true, but most of us have been living for a long time before coming here. Some of you here have always known what you wanted to do and how you were going to make your mark on the world, others like me had to struggle to figure it out. Regardless, we all approached MIIS with our own experiences that contributed to the overall environment of this school.
We are here to commemorate the end of an era. MIIS allowed people from all backgrounds and interests to come together and forge lifelong friendships, with people we may never have met otherwise. We’ve come to the end of one road, but there’s another road around the corner. Some of us have already found our dream jobs, others are taking some time off, and still others are doing something in the interim. Regardless of our future path, remember your past. Remember that the lessons we’ve learned here and the people we’ve met will never truly leave us. They have shaped us into the people we are today and they will continue to shape us in all of our future adventures.
I am amazed and so proud of each of you. I had the privilege of meeting people that have changed my life here at MIIS. On any given day, my group of friends and classmates includes people doing something inspiring. And I have to say that your passion is contagious. You’ve helped me cement my own interests and at the same time consider other topics that I would never really have thought about otherwise.
I am so sad to leave this school and town because I know that I will probably never find such a vibrant environment as this, but I am hopeful that we will walk out of this school today ready to take on the world, ready to make our mark, and ready to make it into the place we know it can be. And I know that if we’re ever lonely, we can always come back to MIIS and hopefully inspire future generations of students to make their own mark. Thank you so much for making these last two years into the greatest experience I could have asked for. Here’s to our futures! We did it!
Silvia Sanchez is currently working on her M.A. in International Environmental Policy with a focus on marine conservation from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. She joined WildAid in Summer 2011 as a Marine Fellow to help produce a marine enforcement publication and plan its first global MPA enforcement conference and continued her work with them through an IPSS placement in 2012 where her projects took her to the Galapagos to produce standard operation procedures for Galapagos National Park enforcement officials. Prior to joining WildAid, Silvia worked with a Monterey-based non-profit, The Otter Project, as the volunteer coordinator for their MPA Watch program and as a marketing associate for a Mountain View-based e-commerce company. Some of her other experience includes volunteering at a sea turtle hatchery in Costa Rica and extensive research into the latest marine conservation issues such as climate change, enforcement, and marine spatial planning. She is a bay area native and fluent Spanish speaker, as well as an avid traveler. Silvia holds a B.A. in Communication from Stanford University and will be graduating with her MAIEP in December 2012.