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Student view: The 'passport to the future'

May 9, 2023 - Ian Earle

Ian Earle graduated this spring with a degree in political theory and constitutional democracy from James Madison College. Throughout his time in Madison, he was an active member of JMC Student Senate. Earle worked as a student assistant in JMC's Office of Justice, Equity and Inclusion. The following student view is edited for length and clarity and was repurposed from Earle's commencement speech as the 2023 student commencement speaker.

Ian Earle dressed in cap and gown at podium

Good afternoon, friends, family, faculty, and most of all good afternoon to the extraordinary class of 2023. Wow, we really made it y’all!

Jeff Judge knows better than anyone I never thought this day would come as I was constantly in his office this past year checking to see if I was really on pace to graduate.

The time has flown by; I can still recall the first time we walked into Wilson Auditorium for MC 201. Looking back, it is amazing to see how much every one of us has grown and achieved over the past few years. We have all had to do the countless essays, focused on building new friendships and walked miles canvassing for our internships.

We have had to go through so much to get to this point and despite what the classic Madisonian imposter syndrome may tell us, we should all be incredibly proud of ourselves to be here graduating.

There were many moments of difficulty that no class before us has experienced but, as Spartans, we persisted. We adapted to new ways of learning while still connecting with and supporting one another.

There has been no “normal” year during our time at Michigan State — this year being no different. Three beautiful lives — Arielle Anderson, Alex Verner and Brian Fraser, will not have the same opportunity to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas due to an act of senseless violence.

The Madison community remains in solidarity with the victims’ families as we work towards a solution to end this violence. The challenges we face in our future endeavors will no doubt require similar resilience and creativity. But we are Madisonians, and I have no doubt, however, that we are up for the task.

We have seen firsthand just how important having a loving and caring community is. 

Ian Earle and parents
Ian Earle (center) with his parents on Commencement Day.

Throughout our journey, we have had the support of advisers doing an amazing job at keeping us on track, helping with classes, easing nerves about graduation.... Our professors go above and beyond to not only be educators but mentors too. Our friends whom we could confide in and would push us to finish up that paper only minutes before the deadline. The community here at James Madison has given me a sense of belonging, support and motivation to be the best version of myself.

I am the man I am today because of everyone here at James Madison College. James Madison College and East Lansing is my heart and my home. Here, I made friends, the same friends who lived on the 4th floor of South Case freshman year who I still call my brothers and sisters today.

Through Student Senate and my work, I have learned to be a better leader and handle greater responsibilities. In the classroom, I learned through my studies to be a better writer, better listener, better citizen and a better person. We are incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to have these shared experiences and learn from each other.

As we go out into the world we must continue to find our own community and be active in it. Be engaged and support others. Be the person who makes a positive impact and contributes to the greater good.

Malcolm X once said, “Education is the passport to the future.” The world is waiting for us, and it is our responsibility as Madisonians to make a difference. Our education here at Madison has given us the power to shape the future.

Never stop learning, never stop growing and never stop striving to make a difference in the world. Thank you all so much for these wonderful years, and as always, GO GREEN!