Dr. Lucía Stavig, Penn-Mellon Just Futures Postdoctoral Fellow, Delivers Powerful Commencement Speech About Love

Dr. Lucía Stavig, the Penn-Mellion Just Futures Postdoctoral Fellow, delivered a powerful commencement speech at the Center for Latin American and Latinx Studies' Graduation on May 17, 2024 about the importance of love.

Pleaser read the speech here: 

Dear graduates,

Congratulations! You’ve worked so hard to get here and you should be so proud—I know we all are! 

I want to share a few things about my journey. I graduated from college around your age, but I took a very circuitous route. There is an assumption that you should be set in your career by 30. I’ll tell you what: I am 38 and I just landed my first permanent job. Does that make a failure? I’ve certainly felt like one at times, but in the final analysis I don’t think it does. I’ve had a great life. I’ve gotten to live in Florida, Arizona, Canada, Peru, Mexico, North Carolina, and Philly. I’ve met the most amazing people, and through them, have become who I am. It’s also helped me realize that what we learned in our philosophy classes was true: we are constantly becoming, and I plan on learning through my last breath. 

The other thing I want to say is to be true to your heart. Live with an ethic of love. This might sound trite in these cynical times. What can love possibly do to stop war, to stop famine, polarization, climate change?  Love—acts of care, affection, kindness, and compassion for self and for others—makes a difference. If you show up in the world with love for yourself, it shows. If you show up in the world with care for the well-being of others (which, come to find out, is crucial for your own well-being), you’ll have made an incredible difference in an incredibly violent and indifferent world. As Leanne Betasamosake Simpson puts it, we can be islands of decolonial love for one another: safe harbors, places to rest, grow, and then cast off to go on and do the necessary work. 

We live in very strange and violent times—not only in literal wars, but also wars against ideas, against dreams. But the thing about the future is that we make it in the everyday. If you want a different future, live like the future you want to see. People might call you crazy, naïve. But has any new idea come from people saying, “eh, they’re right I better just forget it—things are going so well”?  This is where love comes in: whatever future we are dreaming of will not be easily created. We might waver, we might falter. Despair is a place we will all visit, unfortunately. But remember to not stay there too long.  In the words of the Talmud, “do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You’re not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” The world wants you to be a part of it. Your very existence is evidence of that. No pressure though! Just be you, just love, and that will be enough. 

Dr. Lucía Isabel Stavig 

Penn-Mellon Just Futures Postdoctoral Fellow 

Center for Latin American Latinx Studies

University of Pennsylvania