Words. Stories. Lessons. Love

Dr. Marilyn Taylor delivers 2013 commencement address

Dr. Marilyn Taylor is all about words, and the stories they tell. This Divine Word associate professor of English gave the commencement address on Saturday, May 11. It read like prose, but sounded like poetry. Remembering many images from her 24 years at the college, Taylor concentrated on memories of the thirteen graduates sitting before her.
taylor.jpg“My teachers are all around you,” she told the gathering of well-wishers and dignitaries in the Main Chapel. “Frames full of their color photos cover the wall in the hallway outside the Pour House. They're sitting here in the front row, smiling. They keep me humble; they keep me laughing; and they teach me about just about everything.”
Their lessons were about perspective. There was Jorge Zetino's struggle to remember a word, attributing his brain cramp to his advancing age. He's 22. There was the affection in a Pour House search for the perfect word to describe Tung Tran: “inscrutable.”
She heard another lesson in the sound of Long Hoang’s voice as he called for Brother Vinh Trinh’s dog, Daisy. Then there was Thinh Ngo’s daily countdown of the days left before graduation.

All were mental snapshots, fleeting glimpses of lives shared in the small meaningful moments that change how we see and who we are. “Moments like that will be the things you remember,” she said. “Like Kevin Khong walking all the way down the hall reading a paperback without looking up. Like Toan Nguyen nailing the Sudoku puzzle in the Pour House after Mass.”
Then her discourse shifted slightly to a longer view, recalling moments when graduates returned to DWC as SVDs, seeming to come back to “a treasured place of innocence where they no longer quite fit.”
Often, these young men remind her of something she told them in years past, words like
those recalled by Binh Nguyen, who graduated last year, “Mean what you say. Say what you mean. Do what you love. Love what you do.”
Taylor then turned to the graduates to emphasize something she wanted them all to remember. “Words are deeds. Whether you're thinking about them or not. Even small, careless words have power and consequence,” she said. “So, especially if people rely on you, speak with care and integrity. They are listening. Say only what you mean. In behalf of truth, yes. In behalf of love.”