Kayla Goldsberry addresses the Class of 2023

May 21, 2023

Kayla Elise Goldsberry (BFA '23) | Photo by David Butow

Hello to the family, friends, professors, and faculty here today to celebrate this amazing class.

I am so honored to be addressing you all on behalf of the Class of 2023.

At the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, each cohort begins their college experience taking every class together. This is because every student has something to share, something to learn from despite years of experience. I recognized this immediately. My freshman year, I looked up to every single one of these dancers. I studied the different musicality they used, how to move across the floor like them, how to perform like them. Professor Patrick Corbin once said, “We will leave here with pieces of each other.” That’s what this program is designed to do, push each other to be better dancers by taking pieces of each other’s artistry. We started our freshman year, big fish in a big pond, charged with figuring out who we wanted to be as artists. What are we going to do with all the information this campus has to offer? What are we going to do here?

As quickly as we got here, we were sent home, and for a while it looked as if we would never get to answer that question. A year and a half went by, and we sat at home and waited. But while we were waiting over that year and a half, we got to know ourselves better than we ever have. When it felt like everything had been taken, we learned what brought us joy, what mattered to us most. And we dreamed of what we could share with this school if we got the chance.

We came back to USC as juniors, and this class returned with such an intense passion and longing for each other that defined our relationship. We spent every day in the Kaufman building, from 10 in the morning to watching the sunset from a studio outside. We held each other’s hands in the wings before running onstage to finish Minus 16 together. We threw parties for each other and celebrated every 21st birthday. We had the best tailgates and went to any football game we could together. This energy in and outside the Kaufman building not only defined our relationship but brought Kaufman students in all classes closer together. Class kickbacks became a school wide party, and SCCC ARTSfests became THE event of the month. Our class showed by example how to build community within your cohort, and at Kaufman.

As trying as every obstacle has been the past four years, this cohort came back with double the drive and support and put it back into one another. This is the energy and active dedication that made us family. Our sophomore year taught us we do not have to be here to have this, therefore I am confident that while this is the end of our time at USC, it is not the end of our journey together.

My first day on campus, I was given a poster of a dancer surrounded by all the different careers a degree in dance can yield. Dance performance, light direction, stage management. For me, this class is the living vision of that poster. Before me are the most talented dancers, of course, but brilliant entrepreneurs, creative directors, aspiring doctors, composers and choreographers, filmmakers, and so much more.

I have seen this class become thoughtful, curious adults in the face of every win and loss, blessing and hardship. We will leave with pieces of each other’s artistry as I said, but also one another’s kindness, ambition, fearlessness, and deep, deep love. At some point over the last 4 years, I stopped only looking to you all to become a better artist, but to learn to be a better person.

Class of 2023, while we have become graduates of the University of Southern California, we will stay students in this world. Be available for all the curves, continue to ask why and what if, remain curious, resilient, and dauntless.

I am so proud of you all, and I love you so much. Thank you.

By Kayla Elise Goldsberry (BFA ’23)