Student Speaker Jillian Arciero Credits Collaboration as Key to Success

Jillian Arciero ’10, a business administration major from Philadelphia, was the winner of this year’s student speaker competition. She addressed the audience of more than 4,000 at the 2010 Commencement ceremony held at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, citing how collaborating with peers across disciplines broadened her academic experience.

Arciero demonstrated significant leadership on campus and beyond throughout her student career. She served as the vice president of campus outreach for the Student Government Association (SGA) and was an editor-in-chief of the Text. Her dedication to service was reflected in her activities as a tutor with Reading STARS, and as a volunteer at the Northern Home for Children.  She has also studied abroad in Rome and interned at four publishing companies.

Read Arciero’s full Commencement speech:

“It is the education which gives a man a clear conscious view of his own opinions and judgments, a truth in developing them, an eloquence in expressing them, and a force in urging them.” – John Henry Newman

John Henry Newman’s words stem from the idea that a university provides many opportunities, but mainly it makes a person be the best that he or she can be by exposing that person to others in separate disciplines. It is in this that lays our exceptional advantage in society.

Many of us arrived at Philadelphia University knowing exactly who we wanted to be. Some of us thought we might know, but we weren’t really sure. Some of us had no idea.

Today, as we prepare for the next step of our personal journeys, we must acknowledge the undeniable strength that we possess by recognizing where we are coming from.

Being part of the academic community at Philadelphia University has always felt like a privileged glimpse at the frameworks of success.

I’ve walked through galleries of multi-faceted graphic design projects and state-of-the-art digital design labs…experienced global business presentations and interviewed aspiring fashion designers.

I’ve watched architecture students design LEED certified housing models from the sustainable materials produced by industrial designers,…. and witnessed physician’s assistants incorporating the medical studies done by psychology majors to develop solutions to modern health care concerns. 

These examples show that there is irrefutable merit in Philadelphia University’s “power to do” mantra. There is a “we” in POWER, and to me, being a graduate of this university means more than the advancement of my own education, because it represents an alliance of educated efforts.

It means that we pride ourselves on the unification between independent creativity and the intellectual capacity of the collective. And the collaborations are endless.

As the Philadelphia University graduating class of 2010, we may be considered by some to be a group with a uniquely daunting task at hand – a group expected to take on the vastly evolving needs to renovate and rebuild that accompany our global culture in this seminal period of time.

After being engaged in the elevated process of “learning by doing” at this university, we are graduating as exceptionally able thinkers, ones that can recognize a problem and create adaptable solutions that meet the needs of this generation and those to come, by focusing on a wider, distinctively resourceful array of possibilities from which to source our strategic plans.

Without a doubt, there will be obstacles. Without a doubt, there will be triumphs. We may falter; lose sight of where we want to go, who we are, or what we can do. We won’t always land on our feet, but we will rise up and surpass our own expectations.

How? Confidence. Confidence to reinvent ourselves when necessary. To redesign our careers when our industry changes shape. To revitalize our relationships when they begin to fade. And the confidence to acknowledge our strengths- and weaknesses- when we can’t achieve something alone.

Personally, I never liked groups. I had this idea that working with others was counterproductive, that I could finish a project twice as fast without the team, and that it would be much better done if only I were in charge.

I never appreciated it when my professors assigned group projects.  What good could it do for me to have to divvy up work amongst others that I could just as easily do alone?

Today I know why. I needed those group projects to learn that collaboration is key to a successful outcome. In fact, I now firmly believe that we are only as capable as the colleague standing next to us.

The power behind a group is its ability to connect individuals in a dynamic circle of constructive thought, so that each independent person’s philosophies, attitudes and unique circumstances have the opportunity to envelope each other and produce a hybrid solution. We can gain through the strengths of others. In hindsight, group projects weren’t a nuisance; they were a gift.

As educated individuals, it should be our goal to impart our own wisdom to others, to project our own understanding and insight out into the world so that it can be absorbed and utilized in new ways.

At the risk of sounding cliché, life is hard. Sometimes extremely difficult. If you haven’t yet faced your hardest challenges- don’t worry- they’re coming.

But the one thing we have control over is ourselves, so I hope that whatever you do, you do it the very best that you can.Today, I congratulate you for achieving this enormous success, and I thank you for sharing this passage with me.Let us continue to find inspiration within ourselves and others, and always remain lifelong learners.Thank you.

For a gallery of Commencement photos, click here.

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