The 2023 Commencement Speech by Roberts Lanka
My start at LCC began quite wildly. Eager for a fresh start, on the way from my house in Liepāja, only an hour away, I cut all my dreadlocks at the side of a forest road and arrived in the dorms with a fresh buzz cut. Like many freshmen, I felt incredibly lonely for the first two weeks, until I was taken under the wing of my roommate and introduced to the study abroad group, which I became friends with almost instantly, being called the most American non-American for my affinity of the Packers, SNL, and root beer floats.
Since then, many things have changed.
It now takes me about an hour and twenty minutes to drive home, a result of an unfortunate speeding ticket. Say what you will about Lithuanians, but they are very attentive.
I have been able to continue my friendship with some of the study abroads, and last year while I was in the states, I was one of the groomsmen at a wedding for two of them who met and fell in love at LCC.
And last, my hair has grown back, but, as God is my witness, much more of it is gray than it was 4 years ago.
If you have spent any time with students or faculty, or have tried to understand what makes LCC special, you might have possibly heard that it is the swans, or liberal arts education, or the Georgians. If you’ve lived in the dorms like I have, you’ve definitely heard the Georgians, may God bless them.
But you most likely have heard the word “community” flaunted around more than once. You might nod your head in agreement, or be confused by the word. Or, if you are anything like me and wrote your thesis on the TV show Community, you might have become irritated with the word, as I often was this semester.
The fictional Greendale Community College shares some similarities with LCC. They both are liberal arts colleges. They both are run by very eccentric people. Dr. Marlene Wall, I mean this in the most sincere and complimentary way possible. But they both are mainly about their communities.
So I ask once more, what is community? After 4 years, I think I have the answer.
It is when you are able to bond with a professor over Steely Dan before class.
It is when you can go to a professor’s house for a sermon and holy communion.
It is when you can make a TEDx event and share the stories and ideas of students who would not have this opportunity elsewhere.
It is when you don’t take a look at your phone notifications once every February, for you’re watching a recording of the Super Bowl at a professors’ later and cannot spoil the result for yourself.
It is when you are shooting a documentary, and instead of just giving you tips, your professors stay till the wee hours of the day, helping you find the correct lighting and angles.
It is when you are bogged down with assignments, and despite not deserving one, a professor grants you an extension for your essay.
And it is the fact that I have to give this speech because of some of ya’ll voted for me to give it.
These are just a couple of examples of how LCC is a community. As I leave these halls, I want to say thank you. Thank you for all of those who I had the honor to cross paths with, and for those who I did not get to talk to, well, consider yourselves lucky.
My dear seniors, thank you for being the most resilient and fun folks around, I will dearly miss you, and Godspeed in your future endeavors. For the rest of the student body and faculty that remain, I have only one request – stay a community. Seldom in my journeys I have seen a people so different, yet so close, and it is a strength you cannot take for granted or leave by the wayside. Hard have we worked to get here, and even harder you will have to work to remain.
So whenever someone asks you “why LCC”, you can simply answer – because we’re a community.
1 Jun 2023