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Risinger/GCC/My Turn: Proud ownership of your future

Erik Risinger, Greenfield Community College Class of 2013, served as the student speaker at the Greenfield Community College graduation ceremony this year. Risinger’s remarks to his classmates provide a unique and humorous perspective on the benefits of the high-quality education students receive at GCC:

My fellow graduates of the Class of 2013,

On behalf of the faculty, staff, administration, and student body, as well as the friends and family who have gathered to support and celebrate you today, I would like to congratulate you on your purchase of one (1) Future, model number gee-cee-cee-two-zero-one-three, from Greenfield Community College. Be assured that in selecting a Future from GCC, you have made the connoisseur’s choice. So certain are we, in fact, that you will be thrilled with your Future that we proudly offer an unconditional lifetime warranty — which President Pura will be handing out to each of us shortly.

But make no mistake: a Future from Greenfield Community College cannot be had for money alone. Take pride in the knowledge that if you are here it is because you worked hard, you made sacrifices, you fell flat on your face — probably more than once, if you’re like me — and you got back up. And you kept going. If you are here it is because you had the support of family, friends, and the college itself — from the Math Studio to Peer Tutoring to the incredible faculty, staff and administration who make it possible for us to succeed.

But most of all, if you are here it is because you earned it.

Care and maintenance

When you first receive it, you will notice that your Future is bright, shiny — it has that “new-Future” smell. Please note that any luminescence you may perceive is not a feature of the Future itself — here’s the fine print — but is a reflection of the hard work that you have put into it. Your Future is, after all, only a container. What you see in it is what you have put there yourself; what you put there is up to you. If you would like to keep your Future as shining and bright as it is today, keep investing in it the way you have during your time here at GCC. Fill it up with the things you love and don’t be afraid that your Future will not be large enough to contain your dreams: every Future is fully expandable — right out of the box. (And don’t forget that if anyone asks you to put something into your Future that doesn’t feel right to you, you may politely decline.)


Every Future comes with an automatic safety switch. Should you ever try to put too many things into it, your Future may become temporarily overwhelmed. In such an event, your Future may seem to shut down entirely; this is commonly known as “failure.” Do not be alarmed: failure is not a kill-switch; it is a pause button, allowing you time to rest, reflect and prepare yourself for the next challenge, which will begin whenever you are ready. In the meantime, please take a moment to dust your Future off, shake it out and refill it slowly. Take care that you place back into your Future only those things which are important to you — which excite you; which drive you eagerly forward to the next discovery, the next idea, the next creation; which represent the best that you have to give to the world, because the world is waiting for people like you.

One last note

By making it to this chair, in this tent, on this thousand-degree June afternoon, you have taken a huge leap forward on the journey to become fully and completely awesome. And as you leave here today, bright new Future from Greenfield Community College proudly in hand, please remember one final thing: you are to be commended for making the room in your life to secure one of the finest Futures available anywhere in the world. But I think you may find that because of your hard work, your dedication and your ceaseless integrity, the Future has likewise made room for you. Please enjoy it, use it responsibly, and don’t be afraid to test its limits. Because it has none.


Erik Risinger transferred to and currently attends the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, majoring in Computer Science. He lives in Northampton.

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