Graduating Senior Lassamy Sesay 2015 Commencement Speech

Student speaker Lassamy Sesay with his family after the university commencement ceremony.

Good afternoon Dean Donald Siegel, alumnus Michael Weilheimer, distinguished guests, family and friends, faculty members and most especially the class of 2015!

It has been a long journey. A journey filled with wonderful memories. A journey filled with pain, and joy, success and failure, but a journey that has prepared us for the best and the worst.

Each and every one of us can attest to the fact that the management 481 class debates were intense. Each and every one of us can attest to the fact that Professor Fogelman’s assigned hot seats were nerve-wracking! But throughout the challenges, we persevered and we excelled!

I also want to take this moment to thank our family members! For their guidance, for their sacrifice and for their support. If it wasn’t for their love and care, most of us would not be here today.

I was just having a conversation with a good friend of mine not too long ago, and I was telling her how I have been inspired by Dr. Van Ness, Dr. Putrevu, Professor Moshier, Martin Luther King and President Obama. I continued to tell her that the single most inspirational and the single most influential person in my life is my mother.

About 10 years ago, I lost my father to cancer. It was tough on me and my siblings, but it was especially hard on my mother. She had tough decisions to make. She had to decide whether to stay with me and my siblings in Sierra Leone, West Africa or to travel to the United States of America. With no college degree, just a high school education, she came to this country and worked 16 hours a day, 6 days of the week and she has been doing that for the past 10 years.

Eventually, she brought me and my siblings to this country. We moved to New York City. We lived in a disadvantaged neighborhood that was dominated by crime. We lived in a one bed room apartment, my mother and my sister shared a bedroom, my brothers and I occupied the living room. After analyzing our living situation, I came to the conclusion that my mother had done her very best, and that it was now left to me and my siblings to improve the family’s socio-economic status.

That was when I chose education. That was when I choose this great institution. A school with great faculty members, great alumni network and absolutely great student organizations.

The University at Albany has changed my life. The University at Albany has changed our lives.

Tomorrow, some of us will be working for big accounting firms, some of us will start up our own companies. But tomorrow, let us not forget where we came from! And tomorrow, let us come back and provide support to the freshmen from Mumbai, the freshmen from Lagos, Nigeria and the freshmen from Brooklyn, New York.

Today, we graduate from this great institution, but we will forever be Great Danes!
So for one last time, I want each and every one of you to cheer with me! UA … U KNOW… UA … UKNOW!

Class of 2015, I am honored and it’s been a pleasure. Let us go out there and change the world one step at a time. Thank you.