Jessica Bufford is a MANPTS student also pursuing a certificate in conflict resolution. While at MIIS she has been a member of Student Council, the Outdoor Recreational Club, and the local student chapter of the Institute of Nuclear Material Management. Outside of class she relaxes by biking, hanging out at the beach and spending time with friends. After graduation she hopes to work for the U.S. government on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament issues.
President Ramaswamy, professors, parents, family, friends, guests and fellow graduates- we made it!
Two years ago when we started, I remember thinking “Two years is a long time”. But the time has flown by, and it seems like each semester has gone faster. It was just yesterday that we were sitting through orientation, and now today we are sitting at graduation, ready to transition to the next adventure.
As we look forward to the next stage of our lives, I want to take a moment and remember our time here in Monterey. Of course, there have been ups and downs. Moving to Monterey I was struck by its beauty and was thrilled to think I could go for a walk on the beach every day if I wanted to. In a few days I was also struck by the cold, and went out and bought some more sweaters! I think about the good memories we made here- bonfires on the beach, watching otters out by the pier, and having dinner with friends. I also think of waking up to the racket of sea lions at 1am, wishing for a better place to go for dancing than the Mucky Duck, and realizing that past 10pm there really isn’t much open here in Monterey.
Now parents, professors, before you get too worried- we did work, I promise. I remember the long hours in the library, staying until it closed at 11pm. I remember working late in Samson on a group project for policy analysis surrounded by T&I students practicing their different languages, as well as sitting in Lumiere downing cups of coffee and chomping popcorn trying to finish a seminar paper.
But most of all, I remember the friendships we formed here, banding together to survive classes, blow off steam, and just laugh. The people have been the greatest part of being here at MIIS, and those memories will last long after we leave this room today.
Whatever may come next, the future is exciting, even if we don’t exactly have a job lined up yet. Think about it: never again will we do group projects, problem trees, or spend long hours in the booth straining to hear mumbling speakers for a grade. No, we’1l do these things for a job. At least this time we’ll get paid…we hope.
Yet I believe that what we carry with us today runs deeper than just how to do well in the office. Our professors and our friends have taught us valuable lessons that go beyond the classroom and into our daily lives. All of us have learned different lessons; I want to share a few of mine.
It’s not what you know but who you know. Usually we say this about finding a job, but I have learned here that it’s relevant to all of life. MIIS draws an extraordinary diversity of students from all over the world, as you saw during the flag parade at the beginning of the ceremony. Yet more importantly, we have a great diversity in thinking and perspectives. In many of the groups on campus, you can find MPA, IEP, IPS, MBA and NPTS students all tackling policy problems together, while the TI students make sure it can be understood in any language. These different perspectives help us see life from all angles, which is incredibly enriching. Thanks to my classmates and friends my understanding of the world has grown in scope and in depth, and I am grateful for what I have learned from the people here, so thank you.
Another lesson is that you can’t do it on your own. The motto of MIIS is “Be the Solution.” Through all of the group meetings and projects, I realized that my ideas were not as good as I thought they were. Ideas become much better when they are ripped apart, studied, and reassembled with other ideas to create a more developed, refined solution. If we really want to “be the solution”, we have to draw others in and make them part of it, too.
I’m excited to look around at this class and know that this isn’t the last time we’ll see each other. We are going to different jobs and cities, but as MIIS alumns we’ll see each other at conferences, meetings, and maybe even in the office someday. We are now members of the MIIS mafia, and once a member, always a member.
So, class of 2012, have courage, share what you have, clean up your own messes, hold on tight to all that is good, honor all people, and be the change that you want to see in the world. Rather than say goodbye, I’d like to say good luck until next time.