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2024 - Alexander Greiff: Never forget what you have accomplished here

Tags: Accomplishment | Commencement | Graduation Essays | Student Profile
Published 05/21/2024
Alex Greiff, student speaker for the Spring 2024 University Transfer Commencement Ceremony

Alex Greiff, student speaker for the Spring 2024 University Transfer Commencement Ceremony

The American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “It’s not the destination; it’s the journey. Truer words were never spoken. My journey here at ECC has been nothing short of remarkable. Born with congenital heart, lung, and airway defects —doctors didn’t think I would live a year!

Along the way, I’ve been diagnosed with Autism as well as many other health battles and recently entered palliative care, which is a form of hospice. I never thought I would be able to get any type of college degree, and I was worried about how difficult college would be.

I started a class here back in 2017, but my health kept me from continuing in-person classes. In 2020, Covid hit, and I decided to take a leap of faith and registered for 2 online classes. I have taken 2-3 classes each semester, even in the summer and throughout our countless trips and surgeries at Mayo Clinic in MN.

I started on a journey to attain an Associate in Arts degree. My goal was to finish. Well, here I am, standing at this podium, graduating at the top of my class with all of you. No matter who we are today, we are one. We are all here together, in our cap and gown, celebrating the knowledge we have gained, celebrating this immense accomplishment. No one can ever take this knowledge away from us. Knowledge is the greatest power. It is something no one can see. It cannot be stolen or broken. No one can take it from you.

Not only has ECC taught me the power of education, but it has offered me a roadmap towards a better future. Being able to take classes asynchronously, with kind and caring professors, who made learning a worthwhile endeavor, and all the students I’ve met along the way, created experiences and memories I will cherish forever. Always remember that it’s not about the accolades; it’s in those seemingly ordinary moments where we find true happiness.

To the graduates: Congratulations! Never forget what you have accomplished here. The quest for knowledge should be an unending pursuit. May your future be full of promise and your prospects bright. Let today be the start of your next chapter.

To friends, family, acquaintances, and everyone else in the audience: If you are thinking of going back to school, take that leap. ECC has so much to offer that no matter what path you choose to take in life, this fine place will steer you in the right direction. No matter if you’re 18 or 88, you can still learn and achieve and become the best version of yourself. Whether it’s your first time attending college, coming back to further your career prospects, or just to refine a craft, Elgin Community College is the bastion of higher education that will welcome you with open arms.

Education is a lifelong process. Even the greatest thinkers need enlightenment. Thank you to everyone here for coming out and supporting these fellow graduates as they make their way into the world. If I can impart some words of wisdom, it would be this: No matter what happens in life, try to make an impact wherever you go. Whether it’s a kind word, a humble deed, or just that little, tiny voice telling you right from wrong – strive to make a difference. It’s not what we do for ourselves that counts. True meaning lies in what we do for others. That is Life’s Greatest Gift. Thank you.    

Alex Greiff  ‘24

Associate in Arts

Elgin, Ill.


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