Clara Graves was honoured as Selkirk College Valedictorian in 2017. Enjoy the heartfelt address that she delivered at the ceremony held April 28...
To be honest, I chose to attend Selkirk College not knowing how much it would affect my life. As a home grown Kootenay girl, The Resort and Hotel Management Program was an education option that was not only affordable, but also close to home and that I found it appealing. The year progressed and I was lucky enough to find something that I am truly passionate about in the hospitality industry. This is all thanks to the incredible community of students, teachers and support staff that the College creates.
That’s something I love about this College. It’s a community that was built for and by the tight knit West Kootenay and Boundary region. A community, in my opinion, is a group of caring individuals that build and grow together, and Selkirk College has been a proud part of that community process for generations.
In my two years, I have learned many lessons about more than just the tourism industry. I learned about the importance of being involved; to invest myself in projects that benefit my community. For instance, this past fall I became a Resident Advisor at the Tenth Street Residence in Nelson. I was blessed to be a part of a team that creates a home away from home and a family for us students living away from those who love us most. In this position, I have learned that there is always someone there to have your back, no matter the situation and to never be afraid to ask for help. People are often more generous than we give them credit for.
I was not only an RA this past school year but also a Student Representative on the Board of Governors. By being on the Board I experienced what goes into running a place of learning and the tough decisions that the dedicated members of the board make during every meeting. They always have the community’s best interests at heart and never failed to inspire me with their passion and devotion. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to make connections and have my voice heard in a meaningful way. Some projects that I had the opportunity to discuss included the new Sexual Assault Policy and the Internationalization of Selkirk. Involving yourself in your community will take time and energy, but I promise you, it will open more doors than you can possibly imagine. Plus, they look great on a resume.
One of greatest lessons that I have taken away from my college experience is to make friends with everyone. There is so much to be learned from people from other programs, from other countries, and from walks of life that are different from your own. Being here has enriched my life and made me into a better and, hopefully, into a more interesting person. So here is my challenge to you: go and eat curry with your friends from India, laugh with your teachers and the janitor, sing with the music students, even and especially if you can’t sing. It will make life that much more interesting.
Selkirk College, you have taught us all so many lessons and made such an impact on our lives in big and small ways. I am sure you will continue to do so for generations to come.