I would like to start by thanking everyone for attending this graduation ceremony. We are here to celebrate our achievements, comradery, and; not just as students, but as a community.
Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Zain Alsalhani. I immigrated from Syria to the United States 6 years ago, to pursue my own version of the American Dream. I am a Chemical Engineering student, the Treasurer of Phi Theta Kappa, and will be transferring to UIC to pursue my Bachelor’s degree. I aspire to become a Process Engineer, solving unknown dilemmas such as global warming, power storage, and who let the dogs out. Growing up in Syria, I survived through five years of civil conflict, and frankly, every day brought new unknowns. Unknowns force humans to adapt and flourish, even in the most devastating of environments.
Beginning in the March of 2020, the knowns in our lives became unknowns, as well. Words unheard of before— such as the COVID-19 virus, Social Distancing, the imposter among us, and Zoom became not only familiar but felt every single day. When the academic year began in the midst of quarantine, it took discipline and diligence to get out of my PJ’s and get to my desk during online lectures. By the end of the year, I committed to turning off my camera and eating Cocoa Puffs in bed…and I know you all did too. Traversing uncharted territory through the midst of the pandemic put huge pressure on our family members, loved ones, coworkers, community, and ourselves.
But we do know this…..While tomorrow will definitely bring new challenges, our knowledge and perseverance allow us to flourish in any given environment. There will always be unknown factors in our lives, but that is the essence of life itself. It is how we approach these unknowns that shapes us into who we are. As we all continue with our lives, let us take on each new problem with confidence, knowing that we have been equipped with the necessary tools to be able to overcome anything we set our minds to. Let us not forget the lesson that we have learned here at Elgin Community College; if we can pass our classes in our PJ’s half-asleep... imagine what we are capable of once we have set our minds to something. To the graduates of 2021, Congratulations on successfully discovering the unknown that was, Elgin Community College. As you move on to the next chapter of your lives, remember to involve yourselves in experiences you love, explore your future communities, build a positive impact on your environment (whatever that may be for you), and be the shining light that illuminates the unknown.
Thank you class of 2021 and Congratulations!
Zain Alsalhani, West Dundee
Associate in Arts