The Charger Blog

‘Our Lives Are Truly About to Commence’

As she prepares to accept her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, Alex Kased ’23 reflects on her time as a Charger and celebrates her accomplishments, as well as those of her fellow graduates.

May 10, 2023

By Alex Kased ’23

Alex Kased ’23, a chemical engineering major.
Alex Kased ’23, a chemical engineering major.

I am a Latina graduating with a bachelor’s in chemical engineering. Well, we beat the odds and we graduated college. It was not easy, and it probably wasn’t pretty either. It definitely took a lot of time, effort, and definitely some tears.

Alex Kased ’23.
Alex Kased ’23.

I feel that we sometimes take for granted how fortunate we are to be graduating. We need to take a minute and remember that it is a present. We are taught so many things as children, and sometimes we forget that we’re all human. We can’t predict the future, and we don’t know what could come our way. One thing is for certain, though: nobody can ever take away the fact that we graduated. That will always belong to us.

So my fellow peers, and everybody who is here, I would like to celebrate whatever brought my fellow graduates here, or recognize the sole fact that you woke up today. An applause for a job well done.

It almost makes up for those stressful and sleepless nights. Because we made it. We were resilient, we pushed forward, and we forged ahead. Today we are recognizing our accomplishments. I know I am not the only person who looks back and thinks, man... I thought this would never be over. When I got my first exam back I remember thinking... Great only 100 more to go. With overwhelming emotions, and possibly tears in our eyes, we finished what we started years ago.

Also, good for us for not giving up, for not listening to those who told us we couldn’t do it, or that it was going to be “too hard,” or that it simply wasn’t meant for us. I know that for a lot of you out there, this may actually hit close to home.

Before I graduated, these were actual comments I was told by people in a position of power. Statistically, out of the estimated two million engineers in the U.S., only 14 percent of them are women, according to the American Society of Women Engineers. And of those 14 percent, only 9.4 percent are Latina. Who knows where I or the rest of us would have been if we had listened.

‘Remember the people who got us here’

Merriam-Webster dictionary describes bravery as, “the quality or state of having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty.” That is how I felt when reading the statistic about Latina engineers and while completing this degree. Despite having the odds stacked against me, I pushed forward. Had I listened to those doubters, I would not be the person I am today.

Alex Kased ’23.
Alex Kased ’23.

I am proud of myself. I am proud of all of us. And in case you haven’t already heard this, I am proud of you. Just because our undergraduate degree is over does not mean the learning is. The reason it is called commencement, is because this is the time our lives are truly about to commence. My advice, whatever you end up doing, work hard, and do it well.

If you don’t remember anything else from this speech, I urge you to remember that life is a journey. Take your time, and do it well. Today is the day that you forge your own path, nobody else can do it for you. Do what you feel is meant for you, because the opportunities that are for you, will not pass you. Take a risk, say yes to something you never saw yourself doing, whether it be applying for your dream job that seems impossible, asking out a crush that is out of your league, or dying your hair THAT color, you know, the color everybody told you not to dye your hair.

Make your presence known. Everybody is here for a reason, so make your mark. It is your turn now. The world we are about to inherit is full of infinite possibilities. And remember, even when trying new things, Do... It... Well.

For many of us, the plan after graduation is to either join the workforce or to continue on to graduate school. I just want you all to remember the people who got us here: the professors, of course, our academic advisors, the dining hall workers, the people in all the offices, our parents/guardians and anybody else who has contributed to shaping us to the people we are today. So before you walk out those doors, remember, this is the last time all of us will be here together like this, so don’t forget to say thank you. Congratulations, Class of 2023!

Alex Kased ’23, a chemical engineering major, was a finalist to serve as a student speaker at Commencement. The content above is based on the speech she delivered as part of the competitive process to select the student Commencement speakers.