At Winter Session last month, two graduates chose to deliver their ceremony speeches in verse–one a funny, self-penned limerick and the other a touching poem incorporating the work of several poets.

Eileen Cleary

Eileen Cleary graduated with a PhD in Human and Organizational Development. This was her speech:

At home in New Jersey, when my friends want to capture the stories of our achievements, they write limericks. So in keeping with that tradition, I’ve written one about my Fielding journey.

There once was a school named Fielding

It’s renowned for adult learning

My application was sent

To NSO I went

I could tell this would not be boring

 

They said I could become a PhD

I knew that was for me

It expanded my mind

Taught me to be kind

Transformed I will forever be

 

So many new words were used

Often times I was confused

I learned about ontology

And figured out my epistemology

Now looking back, I am amused

 

We are all assigned to a mentor

They guide us on this adventure

Connie is truly amazing

Always consciousness raising

And without a doubt my biggest supporter

 

Our faculty is pretty nifty

Guiding us with pith and whimsy

Thank you for staying by my side

On this awesome ride

Tonight we may get to see them tipsy

 

Our families and friends are instrumental

Especially when we are going mental

Thank you for the space you gave

I am truly sorry if I misbehaved

You are kind, loving, patient and gentle

 

My son Aidan’s opinion is well established

His enthusiasm has progressively diminished

He said, “Are you done?

I want to have fun”

I said, “Yes, dear, I am finished”

 

My journey here has come to an end

I will miss all my lovely friends

It’s sad to part

But they are in my heart

Love and gratitude to you I send

 

And here I am with hood and tam

I hope tomorrow I have a plan

Thank you one and all

Now let’s go have a ball

As only a true scholar can

 

Then Yisroel Loeb graduated with a doctorate in Clinical Psychology. With his wife and children in the audience, he delivered this poem called “Gratitude,” composed of his own words, as well as lines from poets like Yehuda Amichai and Lucille Clifton.

I wasn’t one of the 6 million massacred in the Holocaust.

I wasn’t even one of the survivors.

I wasn’t one of the 600,000 men between the ages of 20 and 60

Who scrambled out of Egypt.

I did not spend even a moment on the torture wheels of the Spanish Inquisition.

No, I was not counted in those numbers.

I was formed in this land

Where my roads have been paved with promise and privilege

With stories of summers at the lake and driving to the Catskills

 

Yet the centuries of fire and smoke,

Tickle my nostrils

Pushing and pulling me

By night and by day.

I still have within me

A hunger

A mad search

To live in excellence.

 

My greatest fear is for my voice to rot

Well before my body.

I still have within me the lust to search

For the fountain of hope and healing.

I promise if I find it

I will talk with quiet words – as commanded

Or with frenzied blows

Damn the consequences.

 

In my mind, I have paused by the school where I studied as a boy

And said in my heart: my childhood has wandered into the darkness

And my lungs prepare for an ashen future

But in this moment,

On this stage,

Is the culmination of my voice

Preparing to live long after the rotting of my flesh.

For that I owe nothing but gratitude and a pledge of fealty.

All these years there was only one set of footprints in the sand

Deepened by all those who from time to time let me rest my weary feet and carried me.

 

To Leah,

My true partner

In everything I aspire

Celebrate with me

What we have shaped

Stand on this stage with me

And revel in how we have risen above the toil of living.

 

I carry this message into the future,

My future,

Samuel Noah,

Naomi Adira,

I place this blessed burden

Of accepting nothing but your best

Nothing less than excellence

For look around you

You have never spent and will never spend

A moment of your lives

Where there was nor will be two sets of footprints.