At Bastyr University’s 2014 Commencement Exercises, graduate Chloe Friedland gave a funny, personal, inspiring speech that captures Bastyr’s quirky personality. With her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Culinary Arts in hand, Friedland is off to Piedmont, Italy, to begin a master’s program in food culture and communications. Here is an edited version of her speech.
Greetings to my classmates, our beloved faculty and staff, family and friends. It’s a terrifying honor to stand before you today representing my class. I do so with great pride and excitement. Choosing me as a speaker is an illustration of the unique nature of Bastyr , as I would not be behind this podium at any other school.
Before I discovered Bastyr, my educational trajectory was a circuitous one. At the age of 16, I fled to Spain through a sketchy foreign exchange program, where I was technically enrolled in school but attended very rarely. After a year, I revisited high school to literally walk out of class and never return. I gave my best friend a couch in exchange for a lifetime recap of math so that I could take and pass the SAT. Through a serendipitous donation from a stranger, I found my way to Amsterdam, where I tried on my first of many attempts at college. The years that followed involved three vocational certifications, three community college attempts in three different states, and copious amounts of invaluable work experience. While I didn’t lack intellectual curiosity or drive, I felt lost and hopeless in a world supposedly filled with options that just felt like means to unappealing ends.
I mention my winding path not because it sets me apart from other Bastyr students, but because I think it is a large part of what connects us.
Then I discovered Bastyr. What I saw in Bastyr was different. It wasn’t just a means to an end, it was a new and far more meaningful beginning.
I mention my winding path not because it sets me apart from other Bastyr students, but because I think it is a large part of what connects us. With an average age of 28 in our undergraduate class, it's safe to say that very few of us walked a straight line to get here.
While we all took different paths to arrive at Bastyr, we found our way guided by a common vision — of better health and well-being for ourselves, the planet and those around us. We found this vision not by a map but by following our hearts. We could have gone to any number of health-education institutions that represent the status quo, but we chose Bastyr. We chose Bastyr for its holistic approach to healing, its science-based foundation, and for the interdisciplinary integration of diverse and eclectic programs. And we chose Bastyr because we wanted an education that would allow us to be a part of a larger solution, a solution that has nothing to do with power or money, a solution that empowers people to find healthier, more balanced and joyful lives. And while our common vision brought us here together, our perspectives and priorities on how to reach these solutions are unique. I think this is what makes Bastyr so special.
Before arriving at Bastyr, I was nervous that everyone would be aspiring druids and barefoot moon goddesses, and that I wouldn't fit in because of my love for whiskey, butter and everything containing gluten. (Nothing against many of you sitting in the audience!) Much to my relief, when I opened the fridge at my new home in the Student Village, I saw a block of sharp cheddar, a pound of ground beef and a half-drunken bottle of wine. At that point I realized everything was going to be OK.
As undergraduates, we came together through an unbelievably challenging and academically rigorous first year. Together we gathered to study the human body and its processes in what Bastyr calls the "basic sciences". I'm just going to throw it out there: Nothing about those classes was basic. And from our not-at-all-basic science classes, we split off into our own tracks, using our newfound understanding as a springboard to new discoveries about food, plants, exercise, integrated biology and human consciousness.
Where else in the world would I study the nervous system in a cadaver lab right after being tested on my skills making hollandaise sauce?
When times were challenging, I would ask myself: What am I doing here? Why am I inflicting this upon myself? I just want to teach people to not be afraid of food, and to enjoy what they eat. But then I would think: Where else can I go to classes in a botanical herb lab, a state-of-the art culinary kitchen and an unbelievably beautiful medicinal garden? Where else in the world would I study the nervous system in a cadaver lab right after being tested on my skills making hollandaise sauce? And where else would I find a tight-knit community of people willing to jump through rings of fire because they believe they can make a difference? And my answer was always the same: Nowhere but Bastyr.
I would like express my sincere gratitude to those who dedicate their lives to making this education a reality for everyone wearing these gowns today. To the administration, our teachers, the librarians, the ladies of Financial Aid, the men of the bookstore, the Dining Commons staff, and everyone in every office on every floor, I would like to say thank you. Without your love and support, many of us might not be college graduates today. You are unsung heroes who create the base for this amazing community. If it weren't for your commitment to your passion, many of us might still be wandering lost down our crooked roads. So, in honor of the ceremony of graduation, and as a shout-out to everyone who sacrificed for a cause larger than ourselves, I would like to leave you with these final words [courtesy of Apple]:
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the trouble-makers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have little respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify them, or vilify them. The only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, I see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.