Seton Hall University
Commencement 2013

Valedictorian Speech

 --Brother Leonard Joseph Carlino Jr., S.B.D., '14, May 19, 2014

Brother Leonard Joseph Carlino, S.B.D., '14Newest alumni of Seton Hall University. Good afternoon Seton Hall University Class of 2014.  Now before you zone me out, allow me to promise you that No: I will not attempt to convert everyone in this arena to Catholicism with this speech. If however you suddenly feel moved to do so after this ceremony, priests will be available in the lobby. It is my honor today to be standing here today standing up among you...  

I am not looking to say anything fancy in this speech. I come to you today, just as a fellow student.  Like you, I also dealt with wearing a heavy jacket one day and t-shirt and shorts the next, desperately searching for a desk in the library near an outlet so you could plug in a computer, but at least 1 spot away from another student, trying to get some Dunkin' 10 minutes before the start of class, and simply ravishing in the absolutely gorgeous scent…of new mulch ALL around campus in the last week! Yes, our experience here may not have been picture perfect, but somehow, the whole life has worked together into a sort of […] symphony. Yes […] a symphony!

I had started playing violin in the 3rd grade just like all the other kids in my school were doing, so I've always loved music. But when I started, I definitely made less than harmonious sounds on the violin, what I would call lots of "cracks & screeches". In spite of these imperfections, I remember my parents continually encouraging me on to keep practicing.  We have all had people who, in their own ways, were the ones who were patient through our cracks & screeches of learning and growth before college. Through the work we did do, these people encouraged us, but at the same time taught us our first lessons in discipline & dedication. Aunts & Uncles, Grandparents & Cousins, coaches and teachers. They were our first teachers in life, helping us through the fundamentals we would be building on later.    

As we left home for college, we were now a part of "real life". This experience was like my first time in the orchestra here on campus. It was a scary time entering that room in Corrigan Hall for the first time and taking my seat at the very back of the viola section. The music we were playing was much more difficult than anything I had been used to previously, and I feared I wouldn't be able to play it well enough. But I had the grace of a great section leader, who was more experienced and knowledgeable than I was and shared that knowledge with me. Our professors, advisors, and coaches here have been like our section leaders.  Clinical supervisors, thesis advisors, and field professionals. While time in college, especially studies, were more difficult and demanding, something which many of us may have been intimidated by at first, these people focused their energy on making sure we were learning and living the experience the correct way. They taught us the techniques of academic integrity and ethical development.  

And no orchestra is complete without multiple types of instruments. A viola section alone can't play a symphony, but needs other instruments and other players.  Strings, woodwinds, brass, & percussion: each different, with different characteristics and different roles to play, but all still important to the final performance. In the same way, Seton Hall wouldn't be complete without the presence of its other players.  People like Morrison at the front gate, waving hello every morning, telling me to have a good day. I think of Fr John, standing by Duffy, greeting everyone as they walk by, and offering chocolate & candy during finals.  I think of Luci at the café, whose care and kindness makes walking in for food a highlight of the day. The countless guards, food service workers, or office personnel all play their part in the symphony.

Now, as a philosophy student, I read a lot of Aristotle. He said this at one point: "What prompts us to action is desire; and desire has three forms--appetite, passion and wish."  The lessons we have learned here (which encompass more than the stuff we studied for exams) have fed our appetite, warmed our passion, and enlightened our wish.  So let's be a class who doesn't just keep these gifts we gained hidden, but that brings them into our communities we are heading for.  We now become mentors, leaders, teachers, professionals, and God's servants in the world.  We are called to be pro-active in creating the environments for growth, by serving others and sharing ourselves.  And let's do so, enjoying every chord, rest, and note that's a part of the Seton Hall symphony.

And finally, as we had to the world, some people, systems and circumstances may want us to turn our symphony down. But when that happens, just tell them back: "Turn down for what."

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