Ashley Briggs received a Bachelor of Arts in Pan-African Studies with cum laude honors from the College of Ethnic Studies. Briggs served as the student speaker for the college during Commencement on May 24.
Briggs calls Los Angeles her home and has a deep affinity for her community. She plans to start a nonprofit that supports small minority-owned businesses and also wants to become a Pan-African Studies professor.
“The moral of the story is that nothing will go as planned,” Briggs said to her fellow graduates during her speech. “Things will change. Stuff will happen. You have to cherish every moment. Life is too short. The best is yet to come. Do not give up.”
Read her full speech below.
Greetings, Class of 2023, staff, faculty, family and friends. My name is Ashley Briggs. I am grateful to have had a chance to speak today. I still cannot believe that I am here. Before diving into my speech, I want to give special thanks to my professors who paved the way for me. Without their support and guidance, I would not be here today. I thank you. Also, I want to thank the families and friends that took time out of their day to support their loved ones. Support is extremely needed. I must reiterate how grateful I am for this opportunity to have my voice heard.
When I was younger, I planned out my life. I wrote down everything that I wanted and I gave myself a timeline to accomplish my goals. Little did I know I was a dreamer. I wrote about how I wanted to become president. I wanted to organize groups here on campus and make friends. That did not happen. I wanted to maintain a 4.0 all four years. Let’s just say that did not happen. I had a lot of freedom. I can’t lie, half of my assignments were done on the morning of class. Initially, I knew I would be an English major, but I fell in love with learning about Pan-African studies. Actually, my love and passion grew after my first African history class.
Professors have the power to guide and influence a student. The moral of the story is that nothing will go as planned. Things will change. Stuff will happen. You have to cherish every moment. Life is too short. The best is yet to come. Do not give up.
I had to continue to motivate myself throughout these years and I had to remember that my education is essential. It is one thing that cannot be taken away. Also, while you are on your journey, remember to give yourself empowering words of encouragement. Sometimes others will not give you the flowers you desire, you have to encourage yourself. Be your own cheerleader, other people may not see your vision or understand your path. People only care when you make it. Do not stop with this degree, continue to further your education. Consider going to grad school. And no, Cal State LA did not pay me to say that. The sky is the limit. Do not fear failure, fear regret.
It has been a journey for me to earn this degree. I wanted to give up many times. I cried a few times, but I made it through. We, the graduating class, made it through many obstacles. Breaking generational curses is challenging, but I am doing it. Being raised in a single-parent home, I was always taught to be consistent and work hard. I used to hate hearing. “Just be consistent,” but my mom was right. Being consistent pays off.
I chose to earn a degree in ethnic studies so that I can fully immerse in history and in culture. You have to learn from the past in order to prevent it from repeating. Being at Cal State LA, I have learned a lot from my instructors. They motivated me to become a professor. I hope that I made my family proud. I hope that my younger cousins can look up to me. Momma, we made it. Congratulations, Class of 2023!
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