Miles Middleton, WFU Student Government President, addresses the Class of 2021

This is the greatest moment of our lives. The moment we’ve been working toward for the last four years, the moment our parents have pictured, since we stepped onto campus, the moment that some of us were told we wouldn’t make it to. As I speak to you all, I want you to think about the people and moments that shaped you on your journey here, how they molded you and more, how do they define you. Four and a half years ago, before I was the president or a battalion commander, or as soon to be Wake alum, I came to college with a 900 on the SAT and an 18 on the ACT. I was told time and again by my high school classmates that affirmative action was going to be my downfall. And I bet you would not see the day of graduation. With all that, I was nervous coming here. I wondered what people would think of me or how I could survive a college-level classroom. When I stepped onto campus, I tried so hard to be somebody I was not. I felt the social pressure to perform. I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt the same pressures as well.

I felt that I had to create a higher standard of achievement or even push myself to my own limit. I was becoming my biggest critic. If it wasn’t for the friends I was surrounded by at Wake Forest or the professors and administrators who helped mentor me over the years, I would not be where I am today. I realized that your village, your people, are what is going to carry you through the thick and thin. For all of us here, it is important to acknowledge the people who carried us through life, not just by granting them gifts or saying thank you once in a while, but expressing our sincerest gratitude and compassion for them. It is key that we do not let their love and guidance toward us stop at us. We should be willing and able to bless others in every possible way.

On my journey to Wake Forest University, similar to others, I struggled. But now, as I look back, all of it was necessary to get me here today, like you. Now that you are here and about to take off to do great things, do not let the world around you or the situations that you will experience steal your joy or happiness. For those of you who know me well know two things. One, I love my mom and two, I love my family and friends. Those individuals I spoke of never gave up on me. And I believe it’s important for people to understand my story in order to know why I can never fail them or let them down. Let the people who shaped and defined you know you led me to my testimony, my moment here.

You all have been incredibly blessed from first gens to single-parent households. To all who are here, be a blessing for someone else as you journey forward. I want to thank our fantastic administrators, faculty, and staff, and facilities for making this year an incredible experience, regardless of tough times and COVID-19. But most importantly, I have to thank you students for not only making this year possible on campus, but more importantly for giving myself the opportunity to serve you all. I have known many of you for years now, and some of you for shorter, however, each of you have had an impact on my life that I will never forget. And with that I say thank you and more so, congratulations.