Brian's Ramblings

My thoughts in text, photo, and video form

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

SAGE Keynote Address

Here is an audio link to the SAGE keynote addresss delivered by Brian Kajiyama on May 2, 2006.

Thanks to SAGE for sponsoring this great event celebrating the accomplishments of the Spring '06 graduates!

Here is the text of the speech:

I can not do every thing.

But I can do some things.

I will not refuse to do the things I can do.

The above quote by Helen Keller, a recognized pioneer in the field of disability, represents what you all as graduating students have a chance to do with your individual lives as you move onto careers of service.

You all have shown a deep investment and commitment to enable yourselves to be better able to serve persons with mental health disorders, persons with disabilities, children who need someone to provide them with strategies to find inner strength and courage to carry on, and people who simply need a compassionate listener to share their concerns with.

with this responsibility comes the importance of shedding any fears or apprehensions that you might have in serving individuals who might be different than you. As Franklin Delanor Roosevelt said in 1933, as we've seen on Doctor Kucera's many insightful e-mail announcements, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

As counselors, you must allow yourselves to be open to the idea of serving a vast variety of individuals from different backgrounds. As you have all learned from classes, you must avoid putting forth your own barrier of defenses known as biases.

By opening your minds, you will open up avenues of possibility and potential. You as students came into this program full of uncertainty and a sense of anxiety. The faculty probably had similar thoughts, as all they knew of you was what they saw on paper from your applications.

In lieu of this, both you and the faculty kept an open mind and eventually you learned of each others strengths, and some of each others weaknesses. As you found your comfort zone and passion, your faculty advisors helped to shape this into an acceptable plan A or B paper.

This paper probably consumed your lives for the past 3 months. Some of you might have had thoughts of, why am I putting myself through this hellish process. While others might have thought, there is no way I can finish this beast of a paper before the deadline.

How did you all manage to survive?

It would be my educated guess that you survived by having advisors who were there to provide words of encouragement, words of consternation, and expressions of sheer joy as the situation called for.

As soon to be counselors, you will have the special opportunity to serve individuals who will have unique abilities. These individuals might not realize that they possess such abilities, so just as your advisors helped to bring out the best in you, it will be your aim to help your clients to realize their full potential.

By opening your minds, you will create a welcoming environment in which the individuals you serve will feel comfortable. it will be through this comfort that you will best be able to build the rapport that is ever so important in any counseling situation.

The idea of establishing good rapport is not exclusive to counseling. As students in this program, you've built relationships with your peers, the faculty, and of course with your fabulous departmental secretary, Laverne.

Imagine for a moment, if you will, that you did not feel welcomed in the program. This would have prevented you from putting your best foot forward, as you would have not felt safe in sharing your entire selves with the department.

By opening your minds, you will open your hearts. Counseling is not a easy profession. You will undoubtedly meet people who are in situations that would be hard for us to fathom. No text book or class lecture could prepare us for such instances.

What will allow us to face this challenge head on with the confidence needed to help the client to persevere will be the faith that we demonstrate. If you allow yourself to give everything to your profession, your heart and soul, just as you did in your pursuit of your masters degree, the individuals you serve will sense this coming from you and will begin to believe in themselves.

The power of believing in one's self is amazing. I'm one semester away from being in your shoes. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I would be delivering a speech to my peers graduating a semester ahead of me.

During my pursuit of my undergraduate degree, I felt I would finish taking my medicine so to speak and be done with school. By pure chance, I had a class in my final semester with a graduate student in the counseling education program.

She would tell me the great things that this program had to offer and more and more I bought into the idea that maybe I wasn't done with school just yet.

I had counselors in my life, who shall go unnamed, tell me that there was no way I could manage a masters program in counseling. I did not let this affect me as I was fortunate to be brought up by parents who always preached the idea that I had to believe in my abilities.

I also had teachers from my schooling prior to matriculating to the college level constantly remind me that I needed to believe in myself. If you believe in yourself, the skies the limit Brian, I recall one teacher saying.

So there I was sitting in this counselor’s office thinking, do I give in and wave the white flag or do I stand strong and insist on pursuing the path unpaved.

If you can express the sense of having the confidence in the individuals you serve, you might not see tangible or immediate results, but rest assured that one day your having confidence in someone will pay off in big dividends.

The last thought I’d like to leave you with is one of a challenge. As many of you say goodbye to the days of formal education, there will be no pressure from teachers or classmates to learn new things.

However, in order to best serve individuals you will counsel, you must continue to remain hungry to learn new ideas and gain new skills.

So even though your formal education will come to an end, I challenge you to view learning as a process that will last a lifetime.

I congratulate you all on a wonderful achievement in your lives. I urge you to take time to enjoy and bask in your great accomplishments. It will not be long before you will need to rev up your engines again and tackle the challenges of your professional careers. Thank you for the opportunity to address you and I wish u all the best. I also wish to extend a message of thank you to SAGE for sponsoring this event and for inviting me to be a part of this celebration.

Lastly, I urge you to never refuse to do the things that you can do.

Thank you and I wish you all the best.


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