Worcester State University - Oak Leaf Yearbook (Worcester, MA)

 - Class of 1988

Page 198 of 214


Worcester State University - Oak Leaf Yearbook (Worcester, MA) online yearbook collection, 1988 Edition, Page 198
Page 198

Text from page 198:

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Gagne, Perez Urge Class to Look For, Face, Challenges May 14, 1988, was a beautiful morning, the sky etched with a deep blue color, offset only by the white, wholsome puffiness of the clouds and the bright yellowish-gold-orange of the sun as it sat proudly in the sky. The Sun seemed pleased with the morning it had given to Worcester. Over on the West Side of the City, 812 students, both undergraduate and graduate, took the last steps of their collegiate careers as they bounced up the stairs to receive diplomas that certified that they were indeed a member of the 112th graduating class in Worcester State Col- lege history. It was a day for emotion, much of it mixed, as young men and women finished off an education process that began many years earlier. Inter- twined with the happiness of graduation was the realization that the “family” environment that had been formed over the last four or five years was coming to an unwanted, and unavoidable, end. “I’m going to miss my friends, the parties. I’m even going to miss my classes and pro- fessors,” said Renee Gagne, Class of ’88 Pres- ident. “I’m much more emotional about this graduation than high school because you ' re liv- ing with these people in the dorms.” During the commencement exercises, Gagne spoke about the effect that the four years has had, and how, after the graduates thanks their par- ents, they should go out into the world and meet the challenges that await them head-on. She spoke of the fun times that the Class of ’88 had together, stressing that their college experience was a prep course for the real world. Now, with that prep course completed, they were ready to go out and face everyday life and its challenges. After Gagne had finished her remarks and had received quite an ovation from her classmates, she turned the stage over to the featured com- mencement speaker. Judge Luis G. Perez, associate justice of the Worcester Juvenile Court. Perez is the first native Puerto Rican to be appointed a judge in Massachusetts. Perez urged graduates to get involved in the world and right the wrongs they find. “Some of you are wondering what is going to happen to you in the near future,” Perez said. “But life is more than what happens to you . . .It is also what you make happen.” Perez arrived in Worcester as an 1 1-year old who spoke no English. He grew up in the Kelley Square section of Worcester, an area he calls multiracial and poor. Perez managed to work his way out of that modest beginning and put him- self through college and law school, becoming a trial lawyer. He was named judge last year. Perez called himself a product of the 1960s and ’70s, the New Frontier, the Vietnam Era and the Civil Rights Movement. Those were times of upheaval — often created by people like himself who questioned the values and policies of the na- tion. “The results were never perfect,” he said. “But the tremendous social good — and moral good — that grew out of this upheavel can never be questioned. “At the beginning, I hesitated. I felt too in- significant to think that I could make any changes in the system. But I spoke out against the war in Vietnam, against proverty, against racism. I was looked on as a troublemaker, as somehow anti-American. The criticism did not stop my involvement. And changes were ef- fectuated, because of me and thousands of others who cared and who tried.” Perez urged the graduates to do the same thing. “This generation has got to find the answers to the dangers that confront us now,” he said. “We must not let drugs eat away at our society and destroy it.” “We cannot continue to allow four out of every 10 school children to drop out of school. We must find homes for the 1 1 percent of our population who are without them. “We must not be afraid to stand up to pressure groups who throw up roadblocks and fritter away precious time in the fight to contain the threat ol AIDS. We have a choice. Either we pay now and work for a change or we can remain silent and pay ever so dearly later. We cannot stand by and accept the policies and inaction which bring this country to a standstill while many of our citizens are suffering. Inaction simply perpetuates suf- fering. “You, the members of this graduating class you, the parents, the brothers and sisters, the friends of these graduates, must get involved, and I beg you not to let fear or comfort make you indifferent. “Some years ago I read the works of the Span- ish poet Antonio Machado. I ' d like to conclude this address today with a quote from him that be- came my personal creed and hopefully will be come yours: “Wanderer, there is no path. The path is made when you walk.” 194

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