• Thomas Piper

MY Graduation Speech ala 2014

President Crowl, distinguished faculty, families, and fellow graduates, good evening. My name is Thomas Piper and I represent one of the many voices of this graduating Class of 2014. Today we are transitioning from classmates to colleagues. Congratulations!

            I want to start by taking this opportunity to thank all our families and friends who supported us throughout this journey.  Their patience and support throughout the last 2+ years have helped us get here today.  I would also like to show my appreciation to the faculty and staff of Aultman College.  Their tireless efforts are “related to” educating and encouraging us “as evidenced by” the fact that we are all sitting here today.  

            In my experience, college students, as a group, are a narcissistic breed.  We want our Scantron® results in an hour. We complain about parking, boring cafeteria food, confusing lectures, paying tuition and fees, wearing white uniforms, talking in quiet study areas, etc., and we expect changes to happen overnight. It turns out that Aultman College listens.

            Aultman College has made several major changes since we have enrolled here.   Many of us were the first class under the “new” curriculum who got to wear green or blue pants rather than all white.  The administration added an RN to BSN program with a future goal of a complete BSN program. They completed the microbiology lab and put in bathrooms on the 3rd floor!  The college also added an area to the Bettie Sponseller Skills Lab for the Radiography program.  As recently as our last semester, our student parking lot was overhauled with new gates, resurfacing, and a brick walkway was constructed along with a parking space being blocked to make it more convenient and safe for us to get to the school.  Oh and by the way, the college is converting to computerized testing by which students will get their grade immediately upon completion of a test. Why am I telling you all of this? It is due to the fact that the school officials observed and listened to the student perspective and made changes to enhance our experience at the college.  Now it’s our time to pay it forward.

            Anchorman of NBC The Nightly News Tom Brokaw once said, “You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life.  Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world” (Bert, 2014).  Fellow classmates, today I also want to challenge you to change the world.  I know that many of you have career aspirations in nursing administration, education, and maybe even politics, but I am asking you to make changes on a more basic, daily level.  What I am suggesting is really quite simple.  I am merely challenging you to alter your perspective.  I have a Radiography friend, Erica Gasser, who has a running joke with me.  Regardless of the class or project either one of us is undertaking, we remind ourselves, “At least it’s not physics!”  This is our perspective on physics- It’s a tough subject!

           The issue I would like all of you to change is your perspective as health care workers when you go to work.  My college basketball coach always told us to “leave it on the floor.”  I believe this translates to life.  Inherently, no matter what is going on in your personal lives, your patients are probably having a worse day than you.  Whether they are on a Med Surg floor, ER, psych floor, or in any other patient scenario, they are not having a great day.  So when you step into their room or take them to get their MRI, leave your “stuff” at the door.   Whether you are in the 35th hour of three 12s, haven’t had your morning coffee, or are simply having a bad day yourself, leave it at the door. Change is not easy, but it can be worthwhile.  Be a positive influence in your patients’ lives each and every time you work. We have a unique opportunity in Nursing and Radiography.  We have the opportunity to change the world on a daily basis.  In the words of Maya Angelou, “As a nurse, we have the opportunity to heal the heart, mind, soul and body of our patients, their families and ourselves. They may not remember your name but they will never forget the way you made them feel” (Longo 2014).  I would like to reiterate that we, as heath care providers, see people on what is most likely a trying time for that individual, maybe even the worst day of their life.  We have the opportunity to make their lives a little better by the level of care we give, our attitudes when we give it, and the amount and quality of the time we share with our patients.

            From my perspective, when I am making my final rounds before going home to my wife and daughter, what is most important is that I inquire if my patients need anything before I leave the floor.  As I leave saddled with the knowledge of the fact that they cannot be home with their families, I know I have made a difference in their lives when they reward me with a heartfelt “thank you.”   Knowing that I have done everything in my power to make their stay a little less painful, a little less lonely, and a little less frightening is my way of changing the world one patient at a time.

            In a proverb attributed to Abraham Lincoln, he is quoted as saying, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses” (Letendre, 2014). The nature of the two bushes is not different; the difference is in our perspective.  I urge you to embrace this reformation of perspective, not simply for today, but also for the future; not only will it change the public view of the medical field and enhance our patients’ experiences, but also it likely will lead to a more rewarding and satisfying career for each of us.  Don’t pretend that the thorn is not there, but choose to enjoy the beauty of the rose, the beauty in your patients. Take the time to talk to, listen to, laugh with, or cry with your patients.  They will appreciate you, and you will be better because of your efforts. With your help, we can change the world!

Bert, N. (2014, June 6). Famous advice for graduates. Retrieved October 17, 2014,

from  GRADUATES.html

Letendra, M. (2014). Job search psychology-5 Steps to positivity. Retrieved

October 17, 2014, from

Longo, D. (2014, May 6).  Nurses day quotes: 12 Inspirational sayings every nurse   should read.   Retrieved October 17, 2014, from



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