A graduation speaker’s thoughts

19 Mar 2012 | by Therese


It was not without pride that I accepted to be the student speaker at our graduation from Les Roches International School of Hotel Management in Switzerland last December. But a few days later it hit me; Oh my god, what am I going to say?

I had a good week’s notice to write my speech and as all of us graduates know that week is haunted by “final exam parties” and “we don’t have to study anymore – celebrations”. I don’t know if it was faith or a higher power that threw me a favor but the last 3 days before graduation I was literally snowed in. There was no way of getting out of my house in Crans-Montana and no one could get in.

My first thought about my speech was that I wanted to move my fellow graduates. I wanted to say some inspiring words for their future path but also make them remember all the good times we had together during our 3 semesters at Les Roches.

To be honest I did Google some famous graduation speeches, but nothing really said anything about our adventures in the mountains. One night I took my laptop, sat down on my couch and wrote a speech that moved my roommate into tears, and then I knew that I had accomplished the speech that I wanted to write.

It finally came to sound something like this;

I wasn’t born an exceptional student, I wasn’t born a student at one of the most prestigious hospitality schools in the world, I wasn’t born a successful hotelier and business woman, I wasn’t born a role model for other women and youths. These are all dreams, dreams I attempt to fulfill. Those where the first lines of the application letter that I submitted to Les Roches more than 3 years ago and I could not be more proud to stand up here with all of you today.

Today we have come together to celebrate a turning point in the lives of the remarkable and amazing group of people standing before me. We have learned, laughed, loved, gotten into trouble, and most of all matured together. But the moment to venture on our own into the “real world” and truly pursue our passions has finally come. With a greater confidence, knowledge and awareness of the world, we are about to cross the final line of the Les Roches Bridge.

In thinking about what I wanted to say to you today, I asked several of my graduating friends what was truly special about their experience at Les Roches and it came to sound something like this;

Les Roches is not just a school; it is a way of life; a spirit that animates daily your life in Bluche; the spirit of teamwork, the spirit of solidarity, the spirit of service. A way of life that has grown to become our way of life. Together we have supported each other through long days of scraping and serving water, we learned how to carry more than 3 plates at once and how to balance a Kir Le Roche on a round tray without dropping it down someone’s back. Together we have survived long hours in the kitchen with Chef Bezzi breathing down our necks and we have learned how to appreciate a nice foie gras. Together we have created our own cruise lines and discovered ourselves through friends, teachers and faculty.

The most common answer I got when I asked my fellow graduates what Les Roches has meant to them was; amazing friends, and I believe that this is one of the reasons why Les Roches will always have a special place in our hearts. From sunny Mexico and Kenya, to icy Sweden and Russia, to the faraway lands of India, China and Korea, Les Roches has provided us with an invaluable cultural experience that will stay with us long after we leave this campus.

To my fellow graduates, we all come from different walks of life, we all have different stories to tell about our journey to Les Roches, and after today we will all embark on unique paths. Yet, the common thread that runs among us is the desire for a brighter future and despite our individualized views about what that future may look like, we chose Les Roches to bring us one step closer to our ultimate goal, to give us the tools we need for a better future, or simply to give us a new beginning. And what we got in return was perhaps more than we ever expected—we have each found a home here at Les Roches, one filled with supportive and caring teachers, administration and staff, one filled with diversity and activities to accommodate an array of interests, and a sense of community based on generosity and respect. Here, we were pushed to discover and challenge our abilities, interests, and even our identities.

My fellow graduates, I would like to leave you with one thought. Right at this moment in your life, you are in a unique position that you may never ever be in again. You have nothing to lose. Everything you have acquired of value is locked inside you. If you have a dream, now is the time to pursue it. Where do you see yourself in the future? Well, the only correct answer is; It depends. It is all up to you. As Mr. Di Donna would say: You can either make your future “So Good”, or “So Goood” or why not go all they way and make it “Mm Sooo Goood”.

As we close this chapter and continue to write the pages of our lives, let’s never forget the bridges we’ve crossed, the bonds we’ve shared and the memories that we’ve made. Let’s always remember the important role that Les Roches played in helping us accomplish some of our many goals. Remember that some of the greater things in life are unseen; that’s why you close your eyes when you kiss, cry, or dream.

Mesdames et Messieurs, Mina Damer och Herrar, Señoras y Señores, Ladies and Gentlemen it is a great honor for me to present to you the graduating management class of Les Roches International School of Hotel Management 2011!


Just sitting here in Aspen reading this moves me a lot. It takes me back to that day when I stood up in front of my fellow graduates, faculty, family and friends and poured out my inner feelings about what Les Roches and everyone there means to me. I can still recall looking over at my friends that had tears rolling down their eyes and I had to stop and take a deep breath before I could continue my speech, it is a wonder that I didn’t break down and start crying up there.

This is one of my strongest memories from Les Roches and I will say it again and again; Les Roches will always keep a special place in my heart.





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