Week 7, Day 4

My graduation speech:

When I jotted down my list of things to be sure to say, I wrote in big letters THANK ACCENTURE.

Then I gave it some thought, and I’m not going to do that. I’m not saying we haven’t been treated well. We have been treated very well; spoiled, really.

But I’m not going to thank Accenture. Instead, I want to thank the thoughtful, kind and brilliant people who work for Accenture and who have taken care of us in every way possible.

I want to thank Jen and Bill, who have carefully organized and orchestrated our summer, making sure we had space and speakers and snacks and smooth sailing.

I want to thank Susan who, among other things, kept us fed.

I want to thank Rich for keeping us in laptops.

I want to thank Jan, who kept us connected, even when he was on vacation, or PTO as they call it around here.

I want to thank Maria, who somehow, using magic only she knows, made sure the girls had the same mentors pretty much every week, in spite of having different rosters of participants.

I want to thank the DOZENS of other people of Accenture who supported us in countless ways as mentors, panelists, media specialists, workshop facilitators, tour guides, video producers, event planners and executors, and security.

Thank you, so, so much, people of Accenture.

When I took this position as an instructor, I assumed I’d have to run the show, control the classroom, tell the teaching assistants what to do.

I was not prepared (that’s an inside joke) to have been blessed with two of the most extraordinary teaching assistants in the entire Summer Immersion Program, Shanzeh and Courtney.

Every single day, they bring their technical expertise, ideas and opinions, kindness and compassion into the classroom and make magic happen.

Anything that needs to be done: attendance, communicating with students, parents and Accenture, or making slides, lectures or robots, they do it. And they do it without question, comment, or complaint, often before I ask, sometimes even before I think of it.

I will truly miss Shanzeh’s presence, her quiet way of flitting from group to group solving problems, and her impish, teasing, unassuming sense of humor.

Likewise, I will miss Courtney’s limitless supply of bonding activities, smiling heel kicks and way of instantly calming a classroom of gabbling girls.

Lastly, I need to thank you. No, not you, girls – your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, brothers and sisters, for sending you our way.

You sent us 19 amazing young women: athletes, scholars, musicians, poets, cooks, artists, and writers.

Soon we will be passing back 19 amazing young women: athletes, scholars, musicians, poets, cooks, artists, and writers.

That’s right. We are sending back exactly what you sent us.

Just one thing has changed. All these seven weeks of classes, programming and projects, all the hard work, frustration, laughter, tears, songs, dances, long walks to the beach, but not on it, and only one thing has changed.

They have DIS-covered parts of themselves that they never knew existed.

Remember, to DIS-cover means to UN-cover, to show what was already there.

I will use words from their journals to illustrate.

They DIS-covered what coding is.

They DIS-covered robotics,

how all this information is getting to their computers,

all the logic and steps that are needed to make a website.

They DIS-covered a passion for coding,

that coding opens your mind up to so much more,

more about college and the majors they want to take,

that you can combine social sciences with computer science and create your own job.

They DIS-covered that how girls think is different from the ways that boys think,

that you can become friends as a whole class,

how to work on your own and not the depend on the teaching staff.

They DIS-covered that it’s ok not to know everything,

that they can learn things that they did not know they could do,

and how to stop and think about what is going on before reacting.

They DIS-covered that they want to be more confident,

that their confidence has been raised,

that persistence, practice, and determination are required to succeed.

They DIS-covered how to get somewhere they want to be in life, just by passion, hard work and determination.

They DIS-covered that they are inspired to continue moving forward following their heart’s desires and dreams.

I have one thing left to say to these fine young women. It stems from something I overheard in class way back on Monday of Week 3, as we pondered the possibility of taking over Snapchat for a day.

One of you, I know who and will never forget, but maybe you have, said in an excited voice:

”We could all dress really nice. We could all be like ten out of tens. We could be eleven out of tens.”

Don’t you know?

Haven’t you discovered?

You already are.



5 thoughts on “Week 7, Day 4

  1. You are just so incredible Joe. These girls will NVR forget you. You’ve changed their lives for good (and for the better!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s