We promised we’d feature our two outstanding, student Spring Commencement Brunch speakers. We heard from Andrew Gordon earlier this summer, and we are now we are pleased to bring Cassidy Shemelia into the studio. In this episode we talk about how she came to Cairn, a bit about her speech to her classmates, and her future in social work.
We’ve also included the full text of her speech below for you to enjoy.
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Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the US under FDR, has always been one of my favorite activists. She once said a few lines that has motivated and challenged me throughout my entire life: “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” I thought of this quote when I embarked on a journey of going from homeschooling to attending public high school. Being pretty conservative, and you know the stereotypical homeschooler vibe, my parents had reservations, but we were confident, because of my faith, that I was going to be able to handle the challenges that would come my way
My time at Morrisville High School was eye-opening. Our student body was diverse in race, ethnicity, and cultural practices. I was one of the few caucasian graduates of my class of 58. Every day was a new tragedy. Will’s mom was back in jail. Rachel came to school intoxicated. The drug search dogs are here again. As I observed the chaos and the depth of hurt. I often wondered what kept my classmates going. I had the hope of the gospel in my mind, but for my classmates, my heart was heavy for their contentment with the fact that this is life. My thought of gaining strength, courage, and confidence had to increase tenfold when I interacted with the challenges in which my fellow classmates were enduring. Graduating from MHS, my realization for the need of the gospel became ever so clear.
With my life moto being “You must do the thing you think you cannot do,” God opened many opportunities for me. I spent time overseas, where I witnessed the same brokenness and godlessness as I did in the States. I ventured into villages in Africa and observed witchcraft being conducted on children, oppression, and poverty, as I sat with individuals in Port-Au Prince Haiti mourning not only their loved ones from the 2010 earthquake, but also the corruptness of the government. I had to stop and think to myself the scripture 1 John 4:4 “Greater are You than I” and Psalm 9:7-10 “the lord reigns forever, executing judgment from his throne. He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness.” Acknowledging this, I was reminded again, the need for the gospel, but I also confirmed with myself that I wanted to become a change agent for society, a social worker, which brought me to Cairn University.
In coming to Cairn, I hoped to gain the skills and abilities to become the best social worker I could be. Motivated and challenged by my professors here, I entered into my first internship in Philadelphia at a child welfare office. Firsthand I watched workers from the Department of Human Services and the District Attorney’s office taking the easy route for their own sake, instead of for the greater good of their client or society in a whole. At my second internship at a local school, I took on the role of a guidance counselor, where yet again the challenges of life are beyond tragic for a student just trying to pass their English class. It’s depressing knowing the realities of the world, but Cairn doesn’t hesitate to teach us that. We know that the desperation for the gospel is severe.
During my four years at Cairn, I tried to take every opportunity available to better inform, equip, and prepare myself to become the best social worker. I joined Chi Beta Sigma, the social work club, was an RA for Student Life, and continually sought wisdom from my professors. Being a part of Chi Beta Sigma reminded me every day that we are to be active doers of the word, as it says in James. Having spent the year fundraising for International Justice Mission and being partners with Advocates for Homeless and Those In Need, I again was reminded of the need of Jesus. Through being a RA, I simply learned that caring and being compassionate towards other growing Christians is just as important as reaching the lost. We are to be building each other up and growing one another for the sake of the lost. We are to live by example, and we have the ability to with the power of Christ before us and the truth within us. We can and will be the best social worker, pastor, businessperson, and teacher we desire to be.
My time at Cairn was impactful for my understanding of the Lord’s faithfulness and His will for my life. The camaraderie of the professors and faculty, who constantly encouraged me and willingly invested within me, has been life changing. The wisdom gained, the knowledge of knowing I am capable of anything with the power of Christ behind me, the lasting friendships I have made while here, will all be things I never will take for granted. Our staff and faculty here at Cairn want what’s best for us, expect the best from us, and will not settle for otherwise.
Through my experiences at Cairn, internships, time abroad, and simply being a part of the world, I have been continually reminded of why I pursued a degree at Cairn. The world needs professionally competent, biblically minded, men and women of character within each workforce we are pursuing, and I can say Cairn has fully lived out its mission and has prepared us well. So let us remember, we are not to be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. And in Isaiah 58, we need to be crying out loud and not holding back to the injustices in this world. We all are walking different paths, with different aspirations for ourselves, but we can’t forget the ultimate goal and purpose in which we all share: to win souls for Christ, and in all we do, bring glory to the kingdom of God.