Alabama, I want to tell you a story–one about a kid who grew up on the eastern shore of Maryland. Shy, intimidated, but who also had a chip on his shoulder–a kid who had dreams of moving away and making a name for himself. A kid just trying to keep up with everyone else.
The expectations were high. The odds were against him. But even in those difficult situations–times he wanted to quit, wanted to give up, Alabama always gave him a reason–to keep pushing forward.
All he had to do is look: Sitting on the steps of Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, looking out over the quad and Denny-Chimes, mist still on the ground from the early morning chill. The support from professors, classmates and locals taught him about the spirit of the city: That this is where legends are made.
Alabama, you looked out for him in a way so many others didn’t.
Over four years, he learned that despite the pressure of exams and getting passing grades, college is much more than that. It’s about finding yourself. Doing your best. Not making excuses and stepping out of your comfort zone.
That’s all Alabama asks for.
And he did just that.
Thank you, Alabama, for asking everything of him. For challenging him. For giving this kid a place to find himself. He wasn’t born an Alabamian, but you made him into one. He wasn’t born a southerner but now he can’t get enough of it.
He found his passion.
He found his voice.
And it’s what stole his heart.
Today I am no longer that kid. I’ve walked across the stage and flipped the tassel. I’ll start a new chapter of my life and I know this much: I wouldn’t be the person I am today without you.
Because the truth is, when a place feels like home, as the University of Alabama does to me, you never really leave.
Alabama, you will forever be in my heart.
Now and forever.