IPED Winter Merienda Speech 2013

Tonight we graduated from IPED. I was tasked by my batchmates to give the speech. Of course I cried. I didn't want to, but I did. Anyway here's what I said, which, I can only hope gave justice to how it's been like for the rest of my batchmates :

Dr. Schwalbenberg, professors, honored guests, fellow IPEDers, to my roomates, my mom,  good evening.

Before everything else a small caveat. A month ago, Gallup came out with a study on the most and least emotional societies in the world. As it turns out, the country that’s most void of emotions is Singapore. And you can guess which country came out on top of the most emotional list. The Philippines.  So while I think that what I am about to say here is a heartfelt expression of what this year has been like, to you it may be nothing more than pure, unadulterated cheesiness.  I urge you to remain in your seat and avoid the urge to hurl.

More cheesiness below:

Tonight I have been tasked by my fellow IPEDers to speak on their behalf. As honored as I am, I know that nothing I say here will ever fully capture what the IPED experience has been like to each one of us. And so I asked them to help me a little by summarizing the richness of their time here in IPED in a single word.

(slide of IPEDer pictures with their one word summary of what IPED has been like to them)

As for me, my word would be gratitude. Above and beyond, this year in IPED has been nothing but a series of moments that have humbled me into gratitude.  It was also a series of being fed consistently by IPED and gaining these 10 pounds around my waist. Here now, I would like to share three things that I am most grateful for.

First is kindness. I remember my third night in New York.  By some misfortune, I found myself roaming the streets of Harlem at 4 in the morning, with my luggage and the small amount of money I had. I had nowhere to go, I was cold, tired and very hungry. I went into a McDonald’s, ordered their cheapest drink and thought I’d hang out until it was light outside. Fifteen minutes later, the lady at the counter tells me, they were closing. The ice in my drink had melted and tasted like nothing. On my way out, the lady comes running after me and offers me a fresh cup of my drink for free. That small, single act of kindness gave me enough strength to go through what would have been a difficult day.

The days spent in IPED have been nothing but an extension of that night.  I dare you to find a program that’s as generous in feeding its students (and satiating my cravings for Doritos), in providing opportunities for scholarships, grants, internships, jobs and networking. I dare you to find a director, like the one we have here,  Dr. S, who may not be very good in expressing affection, who’s worked harder to give students what they need and more to achieve success. I dare you to find a group of people that’s been more supportive of our stubborn idealism than the ones in this room, including our professors, your friends and relatives.  I dare you to find a graduate program where a culture of cooperation and helping one another, and not competition is the norm. Friends, never underestimate the power of kindness to change lives and futures. Here I would like to thank in behalf of my batchmates all the GAs who have worked hard for us this year. We would also like to extend a special thank you to Donna Odra, who have taken care of us in a very special way.

Second, is knowledge.  Certainly, I would forever treasure the hours spent staring at residual plots, trying to see if there is some sort of fanning or odd shape that would indicate the presence of heteroscedasticity (slide of residual plots). But beyond all the lovely, lovely academic knowledge, I am also grateful for the things I have learned outside the classroom, from my classmates and professors. One lesson that I will bring with me is to stop chewing Doritos so loudly during class time or you’ll get dagger stares (from Michelle) and maybe a punch in the face. Another is that the concepts we have learned in IPED are only as important as how we use them in real life. In the coming days, the true measure of how much we’ve learned will be our work in finance – where Pei will soon be swimming in trillions or in development (slide of Pei swimming in money) – where Heather will finally be crowned as queen of Africa while conquering AIDS (slide of Heather as Queen of Africa), and wherever else your passion and compassion brings you.

Finally, I am grateful for hope. More than anything else, at the heart of it all, IPED is about hope. Underneath all the beautiful graphs, equations and theories is this hope; that this world could be better for everyone, especially the poor and suffering. After all, Adam Smith, the father of economics, did say, “No society can surely be flourishing and happy of which by far the greater part of the numbers are poor and miserable. ”  And it was Dr. S who told me in one of my lowest point, so low that I couldn’t eat a Dorito, “There is hope. There is always hope.”

I will go home to one of the poorest nations in the world equipped with this renewed sense of hope, buttressed by the kindness of those I have met in IPED and the life lessons gathered from professors and friends. Also, I will try my best to eat Doritos more quietly.
So tonight we celebrate the kindness, knowledge and hope we’ve experienced from the people in IPED. For all of these and more, we, the graduating class of 2013, will forever be grateful.


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