I remember the first day you started at St. Francis. You called me on the phone from downtown, frantic, as you had just gotten off the train and you couldn't find the college. It turned out you were right around the corner. Eventually, you found your way. Since then, Dad and I have watched you challenge yourself in demanding classes like cognitive neuroscience, take on internships at the Brooklyn Autism Center, RTP, and Women's Initiative, be inducted into Psi Chi, give countless presentations, put in hundreds of hours of studying (and as Katie would say "thesising" day and night), and hold down a job in the admissions office for the past four years. You also served as president the photography club and had a photo exhibit at the college and then took a marine biology course in the Virgin Islands, complete with jumping from a boat into the sea to snorkel...at night.... in the dark!
Not only did you set out to get a Bachelor's degree, but you also decided to pursue a Master's degree at the same time. We have never seen anyone put in as much blood, sweat and tears (literally) into a project and we were not at all surprised when you found out a few days ago that you got an A on your thesis. And all the while you have been a wonderful daughter, a caring sister and friend, and a sweet granddaughter and niece.
22 years ago, when we had you, we worried if we would do all the right things to give you the best life and you have exceeded our expectations beyond. You are the first person in our immediate family to obtain a Master's degree and this is just the beginning.
There will be days ahead when you will find yourself lost, just like on that first day at St. Francis, but you will find your way just as you did then— sometimes it will be a long journey, but other times what you are searching for will be just around the corner. If you apply the dedication and fortitude to your life the same way you did to your college career, and keep your mind and heart open, you will always succeed. There will be times of failure but that is also part of the process so don't fear it. That is how you learn.
Back when you were in Kindergarten and played Mary in the Christmas play, you said "I'm just an ordinary person." And there have been so many times when we would watch you in your adult, professional life and still see that little girl with pigtails and hopeful eyes, ready to take on the world. You have grown into an exceptional young woman. Amanda, you are anything but an ordinary person and we are so incredibly proud of you. We love you so much! Congratulations!
And congrats to the St. Francis College Class of 2015!