2013 Commencement Speech - Yara Halaseh

Webster University's Commencement was held on Saturday, May 11, 2013 at The Muny. A few graduates were selected to speak at the individual ceremonies of their colleges and schools. They offered advice, inspiration and details about their own experiences at Webster University.


Yara Halaseh,

Bachelor of Arts, College of Arts & Sciences

As I stand at this podium today, reflecting the dreams and aspirations of my graduating class, I highlight what we have come to realize over the years at Webster University. We must dream and believe in our dreams in order to accomplish the greatest of things. We recognize that the world we are about to step into has encountered numerous challenges over the past few years. In fact, our generation is the product of theses challenges—from the financial crisis that hit every economy, to the tragic humanitarian crisis around the world. We are the last hope of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals; each of us is a part of the universal dream—that of a better and sustainable world. We embrace all the knowledge and skills that Webster has instilled within us, and we stand with confidence, ready to face the challenges ahead.

Being a Jordanian, I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at Webster as a freshman student. My first impression was of extreme amazement: the campus seemed so enormous that I thought I had to memorize bus routes! And along this journey, I have also been fortunate enough to have met amazing teachers who taught me how to think critically, and how to become a citizen of the world. This is what Webster indeed creates; global citizens who are at ease anywhere on the globe. Webster gave us the wings to fly to different countries. I did things I never expected I would do, like going to Thailand and travelling around Southeast Asia, riding Tuktuks, and even becoming friends with the locals.

I never really realized that my dreams and goals were so attainable until I came to Webster. Being from a Middle Eastern country, I understood the struggles for democracy and freedom. And as a member of WebsterLeads, the University's leadership development program, I learned that in order to be a successful and influential leader, a person must have a plan and lead by following. Democracy is a process, and it has definitely started in the Middle East. I will do my best to utilize what I have learned at Webster to contribute to the success of this process.

Fellow Graduates, Although we are leaving behind a home that embraced our greatest achievements and our cherished mistakes, our memories and our relationships; do not frown, but keep on exploring and discovering, for curiosity must be kept alive in order to sail away from our safe harbor, from our Webster University.

Dearest teachers and parents, We bear a great debt to you, and with all appreciation for the effort, hope, and belief you have constantly bestowed upon us, we vow to make your world, our world, and our children's world peaceful and just. Change is possible, and for as long as we carry you along in our hearts to strengthen us when needed, we shall make our dreams realities. 

Thank you, Dr. Don Conway-Long and Dr. John Buck for being the role models that you are to me today. And thank you, Mom and Dad for making all this possible. I am forever grateful.