May 18, 2015

Goie dag, Bonjour, Dumelang and Hello.

Friends, families, faculty, staff and guests: It is my honor to stand here on behalf of the Class of 2015 and thank you for being here with us today to celebrate Bucknell University's 165th Commencement. It is surely an unbelievable day. We may be saying goodbye to friends and professors who have been a part of our own unique Bucknell families, but believe it or not, we are taking our Bucknell experience with us.

Four years ago, the incoming Class of 2015 was asked to read, and write an essay on, This I Believe. At that time, I did not call myself a Bucknellian, and I never imagined I would bleed orange and blue. We were asked to explore what we believe, and what I believed then is what I believe today: that in every single one of us lies the ability to improve and be even better versions of ourselves. Today I speak to you as a member of the Bucknell community to say that not only do we believe in ourselves, but we are who we set out to be.

Before I go on, I would like to formally introduce myself. My name is Ruby Palesa Monica Fako and I was born and raised in Gaborone, Botswana, which is a country roughly the size of France, located just above South Africa. When my parents spoke of their youth and their education, I never dreamed of a "Bucknell." These past four years have flown by, but everyday I have felt at home; yes, even 8,000 miles away.

I want to challenge each and every one of us graduates to remember a distinct time in our lives when we felt honored and privileged to attend Bucknell. I can think back to a time at my grandparents' house when I met an American named Paul, who asked what my plans were for the future. I told him I would be attending Bucknell University and he said, "Wow, what a great school." To be honest I was shocked. Back then, I did not know what being a Bucknellian meant, but I did know that was the first time I felt honored and privileged to attend Bucknell.

Another time I felt proud to be a Bucknellian was during the 2014 Reunion Weekend. Seeing the excited alumni return after 5, 10, 25, 50 years — I could not believe how connected I felt to them. More so, I could not believe how excited they were to connect with me and learn about my culture and experiences. Learning about their lives helped me understand how important we are to Bucknell, not only as students but as alumni.

The Bucknell family cares, and that is why we are encouraged to study abroad, see the world and experience life beyond Routes 15 and 80. We are caring, inquisitive and eager to learn.

We are a student body composed of many unique and multifaceted parts. We are intellects, artists and musicians, directors and innovators, leaders and entrepreneurs, travelers and writers, philanthropists and activists. We are smart and we are passionate. We are determined to meet our individual goals and dedicated to lifting each other up as a community. We are strong, we are persistent and we are champions.

We have encountered a lot since our first year here: Sirens warned us about the flood that cancelled classes and forced students living downhill to bunk uphill with friends for the night. For our first Thanksgiving dinner in Bostwick we started lining up at 4 p.m. just to get a seat. We made it to March Madness our sophomore year, and we saw our first "flying bison."

As half of us studied abroad our junior year, the other half was left to endure what had to be the longest winter of our lives, but the random snowmen on the quad helped us get through it. All the while, we welcomed incredible people to speak and perform on campus. While we saw the beautiful walls of Academic West go up, we also witnessed the walls of silence and ignorance begin to break down through a revived student activism that provoked thought and encouraged awareness of what fellow citizens, immigrants and F-1 visa holders endure every single day.

It is these countless teachable moments, amazing opportunities and fun surprises that have helped us learn what it means to bleed orange and blue. It is simply about weathering the storms and learning with each other. It is screaming our heads off at games and making it to class come blizzard or hail. It is our resilience, our unabashed confidence and our unwavering desire to succeed.

We are diverse, ingenious and distinct, and yet undoubtedly we share one thing in common: We are all Bucknellians and that is what I believe. We got through these unforgettable years with the help of our families and professors and our friends ... and to them on all of our behalf, I would like to say thank you. And, to the Class of 2015, congratulations and 'ray Bucknell!