College students across the country, including at the University of Central Florida, are graduating over these weekends.
But they’re doing it virtually. There’s no packed arena, no walking across the stage, no handshake from the school president … no gala event dreamed about for all that sacrifice and hard work.
It’s a trying time for our graduates, many here in Osceola County donning black and gold and a degree from UCF — including Positively Osceola’s own Sarah Hardin (congratulations girl!).
UCF did its best to put together online ceremonies for each of its colleges Saturday, with many of the usual elements. That included a genuine, heartfelt commencement speech by Shaquille and Shaquem Griffin, a pair of notable Knights alumni now playing for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. They didn’t write a speech, choosing to “speak from the heart and keep it real.”
They spoke of overcoming adversity — it’s topical for these graduates, and for Shaquem, who is the first player to reach the NFL with one hand after losing the other to a childhood disease.
“Adversity is what made me who I am today,” he said. “Don’t like adversity dictate who you are going to be, or obstacles define the person you are. Mine built me to be a better person.
“What separates us from other schools is that we know adversity, we’ve felt it before, and we know what to do when it comes: you attack it, and you beat it. You learn to be strong and fight harder when things get hard. We came to UCF to change the world, so help someone.”
If there’s hardship, embrace it, Shaquill said.
“You will hit a wall. I had second thoughts about who I was becoming,” he said. “Know your worth and take full advantage of it. Now it’s time to find your purpose. Why did you make those sacrifices? Being a UCF Knight is about opportunity. Look for your opportunities and take full advantage of it.”
Shaquem and Shaquille are brothers, but said they found an extended family at UCF.
“UCF allowed me to figure out who I am,” Shaquem said. “We’re all creating a new family. We’re now part of Knight Nation. That brings familyhood and brotherhood.”
Congratulations on your graduations, UCF family. #ChargeOn