Valedictory Address

Published on: May 19, 2024

Valedictory Address

By Madelyn Tice
I would like to start by showing some gratitude for the people who truly made the Neumann experience what it is. A huge thank you to Dr. Domes and Mrs. Domes for being so welcoming to not only me, but to every individual who steps foot on this campus. Thank you to Dr. Barnes and the Board of Trustees for working tirelessly to ensure each student is provided with the resources and support to excel during their time here.

Thank you to the staff and faculty here at Neumann for providing students with the ability to learn while also encouraging us to strive for excellence both in the classroom and out.

And finally, thank you to my parents, brother, and grandparents for always believing in me. My accomplishments are simply just a reflection of your love and support, and I am forever grateful for you all.

Truthfully, Neumann was never a school that was on my radar, and I had never even heard of Neumann before the previous softball coach started to recruit me. But now as I reflect back on my past three years, I can’t even imagine having attended a different school. I think about the impact that the people I've met and experiences I've had here have changed who I was into who I am.

When you decide to attend a school like Neumann, you make a commitment, in my opinion, to be more present and engaged than if you were to attend a school like Penn State. Not to say one is better than the other, though I'm sure everyone in this room except for my mom would argue Neumann is, but you can't hide in a classroom with 20 students. So choosing Neumann, for me, turned out to be an easy choice because I saw the opportunity that I would have to make meaningful connections with my professors, peers, and people on campus. A privilege that we as Neumann students have, or I should say had.

Dr. Shahmaei, or better known as “Arde,” is the perfect example of that for me. Everyone who has taken one of his courses knows they are in for a challenge, but everyone also knows that he is incredibly kind and funny and an all-around great guy who is always willing to help his students when they need it. I was fortunate enough to have him for three different classes and during those classes I got to learn obviously about statistics and probability and operations, but more than that I got to learn about him. His life, his story, his journey, and at the same time he learned about me.

Recently, he found out I am taking a trip to Europe and he instantly started giving me advice on what to do, what not to do, where to eat, what to see, how to travel, and I could just tell he was so excited for me and so excited to share his own experience with me as well. You don’t get that kind of connection at other schools and through these little insights and conversations with Arde, I was able to feel connected to something more than a class. Something bigger than myself, and something bigger than him.

I have had similar experiences with many other professors, as I'm sure most of you have too, and that is one of the things that makes our experience at Neumann so unique. To be able to learn and grow in an environment where reverence and compassion are valued as much as the subject matter itself is truly special.

These connections, for me, go way beyond the classroom. As I briefly mentioned, I was recruited to play softball here and have spent the last three years as a member of the team. I can say, without a doubt, that the majority of my most memorable experiences at Neumann were on the field, on the bus, on spring break, and really anywhere with my teammates. And it's funny, because my first practice during the fall semester of my first year, I was so nervous about meeting everyone that I made my roommates go an hour early to practice just to be sure we didn’t miss anything, which was entirely unnecessary. While I continued to arrive to things earlier than needed, I quickly realized there was never anything to be nervous about.

We all have groups here on campus that we feel a part of. Whether it's an athletic team or a club or some other organization on campus. We all found a place to fit in and be. For me, that was softball. I learned more from my teammates than I could have ever imagined. In my opinion, athletics, at any level, are one of the most impactful and beneficial things a person can be a part of. But, in college, athletics provides an entirely different dimension to the college experience.

Playing a sport, at a high level, allows you to learn discipline, excellence, resilience, teamwork, and more, all of which can be directly translated into academics, relationships, future jobs, and so on. But teammates teach you so much more. They become your family away from home, offering support, encouragement, and friendship through both triumphs and challenges. They teach you about perseverance when facing adversity, about empathy when understanding their struggles, and about celebration when sharing in their successes. And that is exactly what my teammates did for me.

I realized early on that it wasn't just about wins and losses. It was about growth, camaraderie, and the invaluable lessons learned along the way. My teammates weren't just fellow athletes; they were my mentors, my supporters, and my friends. And they’ll continue to be that long after we take off our cleats and turn in our jerseys.

Neumann brought all these people and experiences into my life, shaping me into the person I am and prepping me for the journey ahead. Neumann has fostered an environment, not just for me, but for everyone here, where people from all walks of life can come together, share their passions, and form lasting connections.

As we prepare to embark on the next chapter of our lives, let us carry with us the lessons we've learned and the memories we've made both in the classroom and out. Let us never forget the values instilled in us at Neumann; reverence, integrity, service, excellence, and stewardship. More than just words, these values are the guiding principles that will help shape our actions and define our character as we navigate the complexities of the world beyond this campus.

Our journey at Neumann is ending, but our own adventures are just beginning. Continue to seize every opportunity, embrace every challenge, and cherish every moment. Each of our futures is bright, and I cannot wait to see the incredible journeys ahead for each of us.

Congratulations, Class of 2024. The best is yet to come.





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