Brandon Claye '17 Speaks to the Class of 2017


Good afternoon, Dean Shawky, faculty and staff, alumni, friends, family and especially, esteemed, graduates. It is both an honor and a privilege to be able to speak before you all today.

Not too long ago I was reading a book called “Golden Rule Leadership” by Gordon Ferguson and Wyndham Shaw, and they asked a question that stood out to me. They asked, “When you get to where you are going where will you be?”

That immediately brought me back to the day my parents moved me into my dorm and the sensation that came over me as it sunk in that I will be here for the next 4 years. I remember the feeling of not knowing what to do next. I was standing at Collins circle and I vividly recall not knowing which quad was mine since each, through the eyes of a freshman is identical. I didn’t know where to go. So I arbitrarily began with one quad and soon enough I found my home. I’m sure some of you can relate.

And as I look back on that memory I cant help but believe some of us may be feeling that at this exact moment. The feeling of where am I and where am I going? As we graduate and look toward the future we can be unsure as to what is next. For many of us, we start a new job in our field; as CPAs, Data Analysts, Financial Planners, or Marketing Specialists . For others, we will head to graduate school to pursue another degree. Others will begin to start their own companies or take over a family company. And of course, there are those of us who are not quite sure what’s next. That’s OK.

So now, I propose to you the same question I was asked: “When you get to where you are going where will you be?”

You see, whatever you may be feeling, whether it is supreme confidence, uncertainty or anything in between. Whichever path you are on, you must know what you desire your destination to be. We are not leaving this institution and wandering aimlessly into the “real world.” NO, rather we are purposeful, prepared and confident in what we have learned these past 4 years to be able to move forward.

How can we fear pressure, when we have sat through the grueling experience that is Professor Fogelman’s hot seat?

Who can tell us we are not resourceful, when we have stretched $30 of munch money over entire semesters.

Why should we fear networking, when we have made plenty friends in the dining halls in order to get a meal when our swipes have run empty. Shout out to Pam.

How can we shy away from a fear of failure, when not even Accounting 311, Investment Management, or even that monster of a 50 page paper, that felt like a dissertation, for 481 could stop us from getting to where we are today? A sincere thank you to Investopedia.

So as we look back at our time here in Albany, we see we are much more prepared for the tasks ahead than we may realize. So you don’t have to be like me on that first day. You don’t have to wander from place to place, job to job hoping each time that you’ve found home. Most importantly you don’t have to begin this journey alone. Look around you; the very people you are sitting next to are the ones who have been with you through it all, and they will be the ones with you as you make a name for yourself. I don’t know how successful my college career would have been if it were not for my friends pushing, and sometimes dragging me through. I think back to the early mornings when I would be in the quad penthouse because the library was only open until 3am .. Many of those nights I spent with my classmates, half asleep and running on fumes and vending machine coffee just trying to understand a single concept. But when we look back, these are the memories we cherish the most, the relationships forged through the struggle.

And of course we cannot forget the people that made this day, and each before it possible; our support system, our rock, both our inspiration and motivation; Thank you to all the parents and guardians. Thank you for lending your ear when we complained about our classes, and thank you for the patience and wisdom you gave freely to us over these years that got us to where we are now.

Because of these people in our lives, we are set for success!
And for this reason, I have the utmost confidence in us that we will indeed find our home. Not only will we find our calling, but also we will thrive in our industry. We will be living out our dreams and we will have finally arrived at our destination.

And when that day comes when you have found your home, and your journey is complete do not forget where you started. Let us not turn our backs on the university that prepared us for what we will one day accomplish. But rather, let us give back with generosity! And generosity is not just measured in how much you give from your wallet. So I challenge you to give back with your time and your efforts. Be the alumni that you needed when you were a student. Be the mentor you would have liked when you were first dropped off at Collin’s Circle and be that for those arriving in august wholike us are looking for their home. Let’s take care of our home and invest in the great Danes of the future

Great Danes. Today we graduate. Tomorrow we inspire.

Congratulations to the class of 2017, may you all prosper and find success.