On May 10th, we celebrated the graduation of two programs: Video Game Design and Digital Media Production.
We hosted the graduation ceremony at the excellent Matrix Hotel in downtown Edmonton. Everyone dressed up in their best as we celebrated the transition from student to creative professional for sixteen eager and energetic emerging artists.
We had the privilege of Erin Hazen’s speech for our graduates. We have included a transcript of her words of encouragement below.
We will be hosting another graduation in July as we celebrate the students in two more programs: 3d Animation Production and Digital Illustration & Sequential Arts. The Quartz Ballroom at the Matrix Hotel was perfect for our needs offering a level of formality fitting for our graduates.
Erin’s speech for our graduating class:
Congratulations to all of you, on your graduation from Edmonton Digital Arts College’s Digital Media Production, and Video Game Design programs.
It is my sincere pleasure to be here tonight, because like many of you will come to understand in the days and months and years ahead, returning to EDAC will always feels like coming home.
Wherever you are, wherever your careers and lives take you, EDAC holds space for you, and I am grateful that there was space and time for me to return tonight to talk with you about something I understand implicitly…life after EDAC.
My experience at EDAC was, like many of yours…intense. For months and months I discovered all of the things (like hundreds of things) I didn’t know, or didn’t know how to do. Every once and a while though, I would find a groove and think, “I am getting this –this is easy! I am the smartest!”
And then…like I am sure all of you have experienced, a massive wrench would appear out of no where…followed by a giant anvil falling from the sky. Both grinding my progress to a halt, and squashing my confidence flat, making me seriously question my ability…and sanity.
These are the times when this team – your support team here tonight of fellow students and faculty – would say “you’ve got this”, or “how can I help”, or “there is always a way, we will figure it out”. And we always did.
These are mantras I carry with me in my personal and professional life now. Words that remind me that huge and seeming challenges will happen, in fact they are guaranteed to happen, but there is always a way.
I learned at EDAC that humility and integrity are worth more than you will ever really know. Seeking accolades for ego sake, shifts and tarnishes your goals. Seek instead to do better than you did yesterday, don’t worry about what other people think or say, pay no attention to who you think is faster, smarter, or better than you because all of that stuff gets really heavy over time. It drags you down.
Instead, keep your intentions true, be humble when you have a win, and share the celebration with others. I promise this will always serve you well in your career and life.
Always, always, always take the high road. Even if it hurts. Even if it goes against every instinct. Even if you want to scream at your coworker, or furiously type a scathing comment, or passive aggressively phone-it-in on a project, or hit send on an email you know you shouldn’t (but it would feel so good!). Don’t do it. You never really know the truth of what is happening on the other side. If someone has wronged you, there are a myriad of reasons they have done it – likely all of which have little or nothing to do with you.
This is something you have no control over. The only thing you are 100% in charge of, is how you react. The decisions you make during these situations and – the ones that show your true character – will ripple throughout your lives and careers for years to come. Be known for the good you put out into this world, you are ambassadors of creativity, not negativity.
Life after EDAC is weird, I won’t lie. For several months after I left I had to catch myself from saying “when I was at EDAC”, or “this one time, at EDAC”. But it’s because it was a transformative experience that helped to shape who I am as a person and as a professional. I don’t think I even understood how much I had learned from all of you – the faculty, students and alumni – until I left. This will be a discovery I am certain you will make as well, that the lessons from EDAC will continue to reveal themselves throughout your lives and careers.
If I can quote Steve Jobs, from a convocation speech he gave at Stanford University, “Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart, and intuition.”
The programs that you just completed are unbendingly challenging, pushing you at every turn. Days that are supremely frustrating and surprisingly emotional. And then there are days that are immensely fulfilling, and rewarding. Today is one of those days, where you can and should acknowledge that you did this.
You dreamed, you planned, you tried, you failed, you tried again. Your inner voice, heart and intuition spoke, and you listened. You made stuff out of nothing, out of thoughts and dreams. You are amazing makers, and it is so exciting to witness.
To the EDAC faculty – you are a tremendous team of people whom I miss like mad. Thank you for the lessons you taught, and continue to teach me. This is a crazy family of weirdos that I am grateful to be a part of. To the EDAC graduates, this world needs your beautiful ideas, it needs your strange ideas, it even needs your terrible ideas.
Celebrate the greatness of today, but do not rest, because you have even greater moments ahead of you. I am excited for you, for the adventures that lie ahead, and the lessons that you will continue to learn throughout your careers.
Congratulations and thank you again for letting me be a part of this important day.”