2007 Commencement Speech by Christian Taske

This is it, class of 2007. This is the day we have worked for over the past four years, some of us more and some of us maybe a little less. But we all made it to this special day, and that is what counts. This is the day that should make all of us proud. This is the day we celebrate the 2007 graduates of Notre Dame College!

I am very pleased to be here, celebrating this Commencement with all you. Receiving this award is a great honor and a wonderful way to finish my years at Notre Dame College.

However, this great day is not only about us students. It is a day for all of us to share our joy with family, friends, and teachers without whom we would have never reached our goals. During our studies, they supported us emotionally, intellectually, financially, and spiritually. This is not only our accomplishment today. It is also theirs. Therefore, fellow graduates, please stand and join me in a round of applause for all of our special supporters.

I also would like to begin with a very personal message for my parents, Bernard and Margareta Taske. They traveled forty-six hundred miles from our hometown of Vechta, Germany to be here today. Their English skills are not very strong, so please bear with me for just a short German moment.

Mama und Papa, ich moechte mich recht herzlich fuer eure Unterstuetzung in den letzten drei Jahren bedanken. Ohne eure Hilfe, besonders finanziell, waere mein Studium nicht moeglich gewesen. Vielen Dank!

Thank you also to my devoted girlfriend, Tricia Scarvelli, who has been a great support during my three years in the United States, and who translates for my parents during their visit.

Leaving my country to study in the United States was one of the most challenging decisions I ever made. Countless worries ran through my head in the days before my departure.

Would I get along in this new environment? Would I make friends at this new institution? Would I be able to do well academically in a foreign language? I simply didn’t know what to expect.

However, all my worries vanished as I stepped onto Notre Dame’s campus. Students, faculty and staff alike, all welcomed me with friendliness and open arms. This sincerity was exhibited by the Notre Dame family throughout all of my college years. The Notre Dame community bestowed encouragement and support on all of my athletic and academic endeavors. Team spirit was exercised not only on the soccer field, but also in the classroom by students as well as faculty.

In 2004, I came to Cleveland with an open mind and a desire to explore new ideas and look at things in new and different ways. That is why a liberal arts college like Notre Dame was a perfect fit for me.

The idea of liberal arts is very old. It is based on the concept of free thought and being exposed to a wide range of different disciplines. In fact, Liberal comes from the Latin word Liber which means free.

Perhaps this concept of free thought resonates so strongly within me because of my German heritage. Early in the 20th century, the world saw what can happen when a nation blindly follows a leader and accepts an idea without question.

Liberal arts provide the antidote to this kind of mentality. Liberal Arts foster critical thought and encourage curiosity, recognizing that it is important to ask questions.

Liberal Arts place a strong value on lifelong learning, so we can continue to evaluate different opinions in order to achieve truth, beauty and goodness.

Notre Dame also exposed us students to cultural diversity in a way most of us never experienced before, nor expected to encounter at this sheltered institution. As a teenager, I visited countries all across Europe. But it was at a small Catholic college in the suburb of Cleveland that I was able to make friends from around the world.

In all, I have met people from fifteen different countries on a total of five continents. The friendships that were afforded to me by my fellow students will only grow after graduation.

At Notre Dame, students have the opportunity to develop an appreciation for diversity in the United States. Scholars of many different ages and ethnic backgrounds come together to build a strong, loving community.

In this process, we learn that each one of us has a unique point of view on social, environmental and political issues. We learn that no matter where we go, under the surface, people are not very different from one another.

Looking back, I am glad that I came to the United States to study at Notre Dame College, an institution that educates its students to become responsible citizens in a global society. Although many of us arrived at Notre Dame as young and maybe a little naive students, we are now leaving the protective walls of our Administration Building as educated and responsible individuals.

I personally have become a confident cosmopolitan, and I am taking with me many important life lessons. I have learned that with risks there are rewards, and if you take these risks you may be surprised at what you find. I have learned to be a critical thinker, and that we must examine different points of view before we draw our ultimate conclusions. And most importantly, I have learned that we must approach life with an open mind. We must empty our cups every day, and to prepare for the lessons that life will teach us tomorrow.

I am forever grateful to Notre Dame for these lessons, for wonderful experiences, and for being able to say: “I am Notre Dame College.”

And to my fellow graduates of 2007, I would like to urge all of us to make a difference. Let us pay back Notre Dame, and I don’t just mean the loans we all have to pay back soon, or the donations our alumni association will soon petition. Let’s pay back this college by being positive role models in our families, our communities, and our countries.

Class of 2007, “Auf Wiedersehen” and Thank you!

E.g., 06/23/19
E.g., 06/23/19