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Monday, May 2, 2011


Why don’t they call any of the actual ceremonies ‘graduation’? I mean, there’s commencement, then convocation, but no straight-forward graduation. It’s probably an ancient tradition like those robes and hats we wear for reasons unknown to most of the graduating population. Commencement was nice. It was long, and the speakers, excluding Elder Scott, were rather dry, but it was fun. Sitting there next to some of my best friends from the past 4 years in my cap and gown, the tassel swinging in my face, was very fulfilling.
By that point I had just dropped off my research paper—the last homework of my undergraduate career. I sat there, homework free and sleep deprived, and just smiled. Convocation was even better. More of my friends from the film program were walking than I knew, and my speech went really well. In fact, I loved giving my speech. It wasn’t boring or super serious, but it was meaningful and I put a bit of me in it. In fact, I think I’ll just post it here:

The Frog is Stayin’

I am honored to be speaking to you this morning. My name is Jenny Hardy, and I am graduating in Media Arts Studies. I would like you to think back to when you submitted your application to BYU. Why did you do it? Why did you want to go to college in the first place? Why did you pick this school over all the others to apply to and attend? Maybe BYU blue runs through the veins of your family, like it does in mine. Maybe you’ve never wanted to go anywhere else. Maybe you came for the unique spiritual atmosphere, to gain an education that is both spiritually strengthening and intellectually enlarging. Or maybe it just felt right for you to be here.
Now I want you to think back to when you applied for your major—why did you do it? Why did you choose to be a dancer, a filmmaker, a singer, a songwriter, an actor? You could have done anything—why this?
I had many reasons for coming to BYU. It was far enough from my home in Salt Lake to be “away” without actually being away. My three older brothers graduated from BYU. I loved the idea of taking religion classes. And, there was no way I was ever going to the University of Utah.
I chose to study film because as a small child I became thoroughly smitten with movies and their power to express ideas. I was the kind of kid who had Fred Astaire for an imaginary friend. I watched movies, I made movies, I devoured movies. The film bug had bitten me and I had mighty dreams. I wanted to change the world. I wanted to help people feel joy and excitement. I wanted to change the way people look at movies, to help them see that they are more than flickering images or entertainment alone. Movies are lives that we are allowed to step into, experience, and then leave feeling better off than we were before. So, I packed my bags and with my cheap camcorder in hand I set off to make my mark.
But as I started working my way through, semester after semester, I found it wasn’t all giggles and roses. It was hard work. I found my motives questioned from every possible angle and I did not have the same confidence that I had when I was 10 years old and writing the next Academy Award winning screenplay. I inadvertently put that 10-year-old in a box somewhere, out of sight and earshot, and struggled through.
A great philosopher once found himself in the same situation. His name was Kermit the Frog. In The Muppets Take Manhattan, Kermit and his friends move to New York City to make it big on Broadway, but things don’t go as planned. Every door is slammed in their faces, and, one by one, Kermit’s friends leave. They forget the dream. And now I would like you to watch Kermit’s reaction to his troubling circumstances. (Then I showed a movie clip where Kermit says the following:

"Look at all those people out there. Lots of people. But my friends... my friends are all gone. Well, I'm gonna get 'em back. I'm gonna get 'em back! 'Cause the show's not dead as long as I believe in it. And I'm gonna sell that show. And we're all gonna be on Broadway. You hear me, New York? We're gonna be on Broadway! Because, because I'm not giving up! I'm still here and I'm stayin'! You hear that, New York? I'm stayin' here. The frog is stayin'!"

“The frog is stayin’.” This poster from the Foundation for a Better Life hangs on my wall. Is it silly to be inspired by a frog? I don’t think so. I mean, look at him!
After all the challenges BYU brought me, I rediscovered myself. I found that, in addition to actual filmmaking, I loved mostly discussing film, writing about film, and learning how film works and what it teaches us about life and ourselves as people. I am now going on to graduate school to continue my study of film, and that 10-year-old self I put in the box all those years ago—the one with the dreams of being a screenwriter and changing the world—is coming with me.
And now, more inspiring words from Kermit: “Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices? I've heard them calling my name. Is this the sweet sound that calls to young sailors? The voice might be one and the same. I've heard it too many times to ignore it. It's something that I'm supposed to be. Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection. The lovers, the dreamers, and me.”
I look at Kermit and I see us, each of us with many things we want to achieve in our lives. We entered BYU to learn, but I would like to suggest that what we came here to learn was not limited to our specific major, our chosen emphasis, or our eventual career, but something much more universal and eternal. We came here to learn how to keep going when it gets rough and to trust in God that it will all work out. Sometimes, all we can do is look back to the beginning of whatever road we are on and hold on to why we took that road in the first place.
Life after graduation holds new and bigger challenges, as I’m sure you and your parents, friends, and family here today already know. We can give up and shrink away, or we can be the frog that stays.

It was really fun, and I received a lot of compliments about it. My film friends seemed to really like it. Afterwards I got to hang out with my family—so many people came: my grandparents, aunt Jorji, cousins, parents, and brother Scott and his family. Props go out especially to Scott and family for dragging their children out of bed at the crack of dawn to come to my ill-timed 8:00am convocation. Yikes. I had hard time getting there that early. I can’t imagine bringing 3 small children along too. And Mr. Stephen Anderson also gets massive props - besides my parents, he was the only person to make it to both my commencement and convocation. Yay Steve!

After all the convocating and commencing was done we went to the Spaghetti Factory, my favorite, and had a grand old time. I felt supremely celebrated and loved—thank you to all who have supported me throughout the years and held me up when it’s been hard.

I made it!

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