Mo Correll Delivers 2013 Commencement Speech

EES Ph.D. Candidate and Graduate Student Government President Mo Correll delivered the Commencement Speech at the May 2013 Graduate Hooding Ceremony. The text of her speech is below.

Hello graduates! I am honored to be here with you all today. I speak to you as president for the graduate student government; I am also a PhD candidate in Ecology and Environmental Science, a proud member of the Olsen Lab in Deering Hall, and part of the Climate Change Institute on campus. Over the past few years I have gotten to know many of you, and see several faces in the gradating class here that are very near and dear to me. I see many more that I recognize, but wish I had gotten to know better. I see teachers, physicists, ecologists, and artists; I see professors, businesswomen, politicians, and agriculturalists. I see people who have worked alongside me, struggling to understand classwork, or grant applications, or the directions for filling out forms for the graduate school. And let me say, I am extremely jealous of all of you! For all of your varied backgrounds, today marks a life accomplishment for all of you, and you should be proud. I am continually impressed by the quality and variety of research, education, and creative accomplishments on this campus, and I can confidently say that as graduates you are already leaders, teachers, mentors, and innovators. You will represent yourselves and the University of Maine well as you move forward.

We come from a small community at the University of Maine, set in between the Maine coast and the Appalachian mountains. I hope you’ve all been able to summit Mt. Katahdin, enjoy Acadia National Park, and spend at least one day basking, swimming, or maybe even surfing on a southern Maine beach. I hope you’ve all eaten a Maine lobster, attend a woodsman competition, and incorporated at least some plaid into your wardrobe during your time here.

For all that our state boasts, I think I can speak for many of us here when I say that sometimes this place can a little feel tiny or confined. What’s a graduate student to do in Orono when they need caffeine past 7 PM? And why can’t anything in this town be named after something besides a bear? While we may all sometimes struggle within the confines of a small town in rural Maine, I think we find a clear strength in our size and geography through the incredibly inclusive academic community that we foster. While we may be small, we are mighty! We are the land-grant and flagship University of our state; the research and professionals produced here are competitive at a national and international level. However, what makes University of Maine students truly unique is the path we take in achieving that distinction; we achieve excellence through teamwork and support. Not only are we mighty; we are friendly as well. I have never felt as simultaneously challenged and encouraged as I have during my past three years in UMaine’s academic community. I have seen myself grow and thrive through the classwork and outstanding mentorship provided to me, and from the intense support I experience from my peers. I truly hope you all have found similar opportunities for such development during your time at our school. I say this often and will say it again today; I am so excited to collaborate with all of you when our paths cross in the professional world, because a degree from The University of Maine, to me, will always signify partnership and a high standard of excellence through teamwork that is so important in the competitive world today.

I wish you all luck as you take your next steps into the world. Perhaps that step is accepting your first job in your field! Or perhaps it is the next round of graduate education here, or at another institution. Or, perhaps you aren’t quite sure yet what that next step will be – don’t worry, we’ve all been there, and you’ll figure it out. As you all move forward in your different directions, I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes;

“There is no path to happiness; Happiness is the path.”

I hope you all find success in the paths that you choose, and that you are able to take a little of Maine with you along the way. Good luck, class of 2013! Ill see you out there soon.