L.B Sommers Alumni Award for Distinguished Community Service, Kelly Creeden ‘93 Remarks

All I ever wanted to do for as long as I can remember is help people and create positive change in the world. That’s it. It started here at Country Day and after I left here it manifested in incredible ways. Ways, I can tell you without hesitation, I didn’t even know were possible.

For example, the reason I decided to help bring We Days to the United States was because of my experience at Country Day. As you heard, when I was a junior in high school, I became interested in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. When I shared my interest, I was very fortunate to have friends, parents and a teacher who said if this is something you care about…go do something.

Make a difference.
I didn’t have money, a job, or any status and it didn’t matter. I was encouraged to apply myself to what I cared about. That experience changed the trajectory of my life. We Day presented the opportunity to create that for other students on a large-scale.
I’ll be honest I didn’t come all the way from Seattle because I wanted to physically collect this award.

Seniors…I came here for you.

I came here because it would have meant a lot to me if someone whose accomplishments were being recognized had also shared the things that didn’t make it on their highlight reel.

You know the things we don’t put on social media. The things we hesitate to share, but to me are just as important and often the most helpful.

Here are some of mine.
 
I’ve failed, many times.
 
I’ve learned how to be resilient, how to ask for help, how to accept help, how to say no, how to say I don’t know.
 
I figured out how to good and do well and how important it is to support the people I care about, but not take their journey on as my own.
 
I also wish someone would have told me you’re about to go on an adventure. You’ve got plans. You’ve packed what you think you need and you’ve got expectations about how it’s going to go.
 
And I’m here to tell you it’s not going to go exactly how you’ve planned and things are going to get messy. Maybe really messy, and that’s a good thing.
 
It’s part of the process of creating. It’s going to be exciting and hard and it will reveal what matters to you.
 
Like you as a senior, I had my adventure planned too. I was going to be a psychology major. I was going to have my own practice or become a school counselor and get married in my 20s and start a family.
 
None of that happened.
 
And when pieces of my plan started to change it was unsettling and jarring, but here’s what I learned. I wasn’t the only one. It’s just that not many people talk about it.
 
Let me show you.

Adults - raise your hand if you had a plan when you were senior in high school, an idea of what you thought you were going to do?

Now how many people’s plans went exactly as they envisioned? Seniors- look around.
 
I want you all to remember this when pieces of your plan or your whole plan changes. You are not the only one. What will matter is how you respond to it. How resilient can you be?
 
Here’s what I want you to know…my story makes sense in reverse.
 
Looking at where I am now and moving back thru my life I can clearly see how one thing led to another, but when I was in it…it was not always clear. It’s still that way sometimes.
Through all the ups and down what has remained constant is my core desire to help people and create positive change. My approach to my work is all about collecting experiences and skills, developing meaningful relationships, and creating impact on big platforms.
 
I’ve had the great fortune to work with and know CEOs of major companies, leaders of organizations, governments and movements, explorers, philanthropist, award-winning musicians, actors and athletes.
 
I can tell that even with all their successes, failures, pioneering and accolades at the core they still want the same thing...to be seen, heard and loved for who they are and to know they matter.
 
Which brings me to this. You matter.
 
Regardless of where your adventure takes you, you matter. You are enough and the world needs you because of who you are right now. How you choose to apply what you’ve learned here and impact the lives of others is completely up to you to create.
 
So no matter how messy it gets and how much your plans change…remember you matter. Stay connected to that core desire you have. Get messy and create. And maybe one day, you too will come back to Country Day and talk about how none of your plans worked out, but the life you created was better than you ever imagined.
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