Jada Vaughan addresses the Class of 2024

May 14, 2024

Jada Vaughan, student commencement speaker for the Class of 2024 | Photo by Mike Baker

Full transcript below.

To think that there was a time we were terrified that we wouldn’t be here with each other, on this beautiful campus, in that divine building in person with one another. Wow… what a ride it’s been. We started out this journey together not even being able to physically shake hands or hug for the first time but only virtually seeing one another through a screen as our first encounter. 23 beautiful beings eager to start this four-year journey. 

We danced in our bedrooms with our cats all in the way, in hallways when we had no other choice, in our living rooms with our little brother roller skating in the background, in basements, garages, and any eight-square-foot area we had access to. 

In these unfortunate circumstances, we stuck it out like no other could! Without any hesitation or complaints, we dived into whatever was asked of us. I mean a three-hour rehearsal via Zoom was no joke. We all wanted to only persevere and work through these uncontrollable times. We curated four creative processes through a screen, piecing together recordings from various locations for our end-of-semester performance. I prayed to witness our collective potential in one room. We forged deep connections that carried us through our first year, and there we all stood together.

Meeting you all face to face in Fall 2021 felt like our relationships had years of history. Soon, we were celebrating our communion together at Will’s, marking the start of our journey on campus. Sophomore year already feels like forever, reminiscing about the days of masks, Trojan checks, and weekly spit tests. What a time that was.

All 23 of us brought something refreshing to Kaufman. Never before in my life have I witnessed such multiplicity. However, it wasn’t solely the dancing that made us so special. Among us are cinematographers, photographers, actors, journalists, activists, entrepreneurs, non-profit professionals, lawyers, marketing managers, fashion designers… We are the epitome of what a scholar-artist truly is. I applaud everyone’s curiosity across different realms that intersect with our passion for this art form. The humility you all embody is truly remarkable; you effortlessly excel in numerous fields yet remain modest. You’re all extraordinary, effortlessly engaging in diverse endeavors, yet downplaying your achievements. But let me affirm: You are THE ONES. I stand here to remind you of your greatness, urging you to celebrate yourselves, be your own cheerleader, and embrace pride in your accomplishments. Never dim your light or doubt yourself when others acknowledge your greatness. Believe in yourself!

The class of 2024 has left an imprint on this Kaufman community. I am so honored to have met each of you 4 years ago. There are no better people I would let see me ugly cry. This is for life… this community… our love… This is forever. We will never have this experience ever again, but I will never forget what each of you taught me, how you all motivated me, supported me, and helped me become the artist I am now.

Ashton, thank you for holding our family down, for all of your grace and achievements. It is inspiring and we see you!

Aimee, thank you for showing us up in your amazing couture wardrobe. You are so creative in all the things that you do, keep shining!

Marcel, thank you for lighting up every room you walk into. Your humor and personality is one of one. Anybody would be lucky to have a friend like you in their life!

Valerie, thank you for teaching me that I don’t have to say a word, I’ll let my dancing speak for itself! Your silence speaks so loud and so beautiful!

Jonathan, thank you for always supporting and uplifting each and every one of us. It always felt good to know that we had someone in our corner forever. 

Nicole, our comedian, thank you so much for our class lingo. There was always a new phrase being created by you.

Atticus, thank you for all your positive vibes the past four years. You are and will forever be the life of the party and the light in our lives.

Jaumair, thank you for pushing us all to be greater every day! Your love for this craft is something I truly admire. You have shown us what it means to be the best we can be when walking into any space.

Paige, thank you for your smile! I could always count on Paigey to make me feel better when no one else could. I can’t resist your kind heart 

Diego, thank you for always advocating for us, for speaking up when things were not right, and being the person who will always tell it how it is.

Jonacy, thank you for being my person, for knowing exactly what to say when needed, for being a shoulder to cry on and the person I celebrated everything with.

Will, thank you for waking up and being the person you are! You are so loyal, humble, gentle. There’s so much I can say, just thank you for always being such a great friend to me. That’s all I could ask for.

Hope, thank you for your quick-wittedness, we never knew what was to be said but it always surprised us and left us with our mouths to the floor.

Amanda, thank you for introducing me to my sister. Thank you for picking my head up when it was down, for making me laugh until my stomach cramped and for being my inspiration the past 4 years! 

Chase, thank you for always showing us what it means to put in the extra work! Your work ethic and dedication will never go unnoticed.

Ryan, thank you for your jokes! I don’t think I could ever not crack a smile or laugh when you’re around! But also thank you for your heart and kindness you constantly showed each and every one one of us.

Hayden, thank you for showing me all the possibilities outside of dance, there’s so much more that I can do. Also proving to me that I like Musical Theater.

Ava, thank you for being THAT GIRL! You reminded me that being a powerhouse, dancing big and going AWF is what makes us US! Never conform! 

Anja, thank you for ALWAYS unapologetically being you! I hope you always stay true to yourself, your beliefs, your passion. You are amazing and I’m so proud to see the person you’re becoming. OWN IT.

Kaylin, thank you for always keeping it real, sharing your wisdom and knowledge with class! Thank you for your stories. Such a great storyteller.

Louis, thank you for reminding me not to be so hard on myself, not to take myself so serious and things will be okay!

Zay, thank you for your vulnerability, for always saying the things that people may be afraid to admit, for using your voice and allowing us to see all of you. I love you.

Everyone deserves their flowers.

Through thick and thin, we’ve supported and encouraged each other. We’ve faced many changes and challenges, getting ready for a new chapter in our lives. This transition is thrilling yet daunting—we’re shedding old skins for something entirely new. We must acknowledge our growth, and how far we’ve come, not just as students/artists but as individuals. Our minds have evolved, our hearts have grown, and we’ve transformed profoundly. We’re not the same people we were 4 years ago, and that’s okay!

So, as we step into the unknown, let’s carry with us the assurance that we’ve made it this far and that we have the strength and resilience to navigate whatever lies ahead. Let’s celebrate our achievements, both big and small, and embrace the uncertainty of the future with confidence and optimism. Together, let’s cheer for ourselves, knowing that whatever happens, we’ll be okay. We made it, I love you all so much!