Jordan Cammarata ’12 Inspires Fellow Graduates in Student Commencement Speech

Jordan Cammarata '12, a graduate of the industrial design program, spoke to the class of 2012 at commencement.

Jordan Cammarata ’12, a graduate of the industrial design program, won this year’s student speaker competition to address his fellow graduates at the 2012 Commencement ceremony.

Cammarata excelled in the industrial design program while at PhilaU. His accomplishments include first place in the prestigious Philadelphia Museum of Art Collab competition for his innovative pull-chain lamp design, and second place in the Foamex Industries Innovation in Bedding Competition for his group’s sleep system project. He also worked on several industry-sponsored collaborative projects, including on an innovative air foil design to help OmniWind Energy systems make feasible wind turbines for homes, as well as projects for Armstrong World Industries, Philips Healthcare and Dunmore Corporation.

Read Cammarata’s full Commencement speech:

Good afternoon Philadelphia University class of 2012, faculty, parents and friends. It is an honor and pleasure to be up here today.

I’d first like to say, “Happy Mother’s Day” to all the moms and grandmoms in attendance.  Thanks for having us.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  Since graduation is also Mother’s Day, I thought it would be fitting to share a personal story about the importance of keeping in touch and taking responsibility for our lives, as we move on and begin the next chapter of our journey. 

Today represents my second departure from college after originally dropping out of school 7 years ago.  Feeling adventurous and slightly rebellious after completing two years at a previous university, I made the decision to change my cell phone number and travel across country to settle in Colorado without telling my family.  After about a year and half of snowboarding, partying, and enjoying what I considered a newly found freedom, I received a phone call from a family friend. He insisted that I come home.

The day after I arrived in Philadelphia, he sat me down and said, “The reason why I flew you home is to tell you that your Mom has been undergoing treatment for stomach cancer.”  In a matter of seconds, my life had changed. The on-the-run lifestyle I had embraced no longer seemed important.  What I thought was cool quickly became the furthest thing from it.

The point is, after reconnecting with my mother who eventually beat the disease, I soon realized when you come close to losing a parent, you begin to ask yourself: Am I good man? Am I being a good son? Am I a good brother? So, during our journeys of self-discovery and acquiring our dreams, I urge you to make an effort to directly communicate with those you care about and never miss an opportunity to tell the people you love that you love them.

Now, having just completed four years at Philadelphia University, I realize a lot of my motivation for leaving college was to pursue what I felt was lacking in the curriculum: real-world experience. And I’ve learned that Philadelphia University’s real-world initiatives echo what I once thought could only be learned by dropping out of school.

When researching various colleges, I asked a high school friend preparing to graduate from Philadelphia University about his impression of PhilaU. He replied, “Great school and the people are real”.  Five years later, I couldn’t agree more.  And what I’ve come to believe is that the projects, classroom experiences, and facilities are also becoming increasingly aligned with what we can expect after graduation.  

And, well, in a couple of hours it will be “after graduation”.  The truth is, as graduates of Philadelphia University, the daunting and ambiguous “real-world” that has become so synonymous with graduating from college is more familiar to us than we think.  Collaborating with other students, communicating across disciplines, interacting with industry professionals, and meeting strict deadlines is about as real-world as it gets.  We may not know everything about what to expect after graduation but we know enough to do some amazing things.  So let’s not be afraid, we are entering familiar territory.

So what do we want exactly? Keep in mind, this is our own vision and not the image of our parents, professors or friends but rather ambitions based on what we value in life.  What do we want for ourselves, for our families, for our world? I know that is a hard question. I don’t have all of that figured out either. But I’m willing to bet each of us has an inkling of what we would like to do that could make us happy.  The hardest part is figuring out what you’re after. Do we want our name to be on the next building on campus or do want to make just enough money to live comfortably? Or perhaps, something in between. Whatever it is, the impulse should be our own.  And if we’re thinking big, now is the time to take risks. 

Before I studied abroad, my father gave me a card and in it he wrote a quote by Mark Twain that said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Before we leave here, I’d also like to recognize that each of us has done something profound by graduating today.  As we move beyond Philadelphia University we will always know that we are capable of finishing what we started.  Whether we finished in four years or it took us longer than we expected.  Whether we finished at the top of our program or crawled across the finish line to get here.  Graduating today is a statement about who we are as people.  Let’s take responsibility for this accomplishment and recognize that we are capable of achieving what we set out do.

I want to say thank you to my family, Philadelphia University and best of luck to the class of 2012.

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