Student Government President Convocation Speech

Dylan Cullen '17, President of the Student Government Association

About Dylan Cullen, SGA President

Dylan Cullen is a member of the class of 2017 and the 2014-15 President of Champlain College's Student Government Association — as a sophomore! Cullen is an Environmental Policy Major from Tewksbury, Mass. Dylan got involved at Champlain early and has already served as a Student Ambassador, President of the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Club, an Orientation Leader, a member of the Champlain Cross Country Club, a senator in the Student Government Association, and currently serves at its President.

This past summer, Cullen had had the opportunity to travel to Nepal with Champlain's Center for Service & Civic Engagement and the Volunteers for Peace organization. While the mountains and hillsides of Nepal were extraordinarily beautiful, it was the people of Nepal and the friends made on that trip that are truly inspirational.

"While we teach others through service, it is really those we hope to serve who teach us."

After graduation, Cullen hopes to amalgamate love for the environment with a passion to make the world a better place.

Wow. I want you all to pause for a minute. Just sit and think about where you are.

Remember all of the times in your life when you thought that you weren't the person who you wanted to be, all of the times that you knew who you were but were too afraid to be that person.

Now forget all of those fears. Come back to the present moment. Each and every one of you has an opportunity you won't get again.

I was sitting in your seats just a year ago, and so I know just how important this advice will be to you. Champlain College will give you the chance, especially in this first year, to explore who you are. But listen up. I know you hear lots of different people speak today, and you're excited to start college so your attention is on other things, but I truly believe this to be crucial advice.

Something I've always told myself is that I want to be an architect for a better age. I don't care about doing well, whether that be financially or in terms of promotions, I care about doing good.

Champlain is such a fantastic place for that. Here, you're encouraged to be a global citizen and to be someone who is constantly thinking and craving for more questions to answer.

I just finished my first year at Champlain, and I'm already up here. I've already traveled across the world on a Champlain service trip to Nepal, the poorest country in the world, where I met amazing people who were so full of hope, gratitude and life. And I began to question what really mattered, and now I know—THIS matters. What you do with your time here. Because believe it or not, no year or month or week or day or even minute is just a chunk of time. It's an opportunity to really DO something, and to do something good. Something great.

So here's some more advice for you to absorb.

Question everything, be willing to delve deeper, to listen to understand and not just to respond. Be fiercely kind to others, put prejudice and ego aside, and you will discover that doors open up for you. Seize those moments.

Champlain will prepare you well. But ultimately, it will be up to you to make your experience what you want it to be. At Champlain, surrounded by the lake, the mountains, and millions of delicious restaurants, it's easy to lose yourself in your newfound independence. Instead, I challenge you to take that independence, and to take your passion, and DO something with it. Kill apathy. Challenge injustice. Take on matters that matter to you. And be your most genuine self, because that's the only person worth being.

Champlain is a very special place. There is an energy here that is unexplainable. Be a part of that, because time flies by...and that sucks! So don't take your time here for granted. We are part of a very privileged group of people. We have the opportunity to go to college, and a pretty expensive institution at that. That's all the more reason to enjoy all that Champlain has to offer, and that doesn't just mean the unlimited access to ice cream you have in the dining hall.

Don't let pride inhibit you. Free yourself of feeling obligated to do what your friends do, but don't spread yourself too thin. As someone who is constantly busy, I can say that focusing on a few things that you really love and can do well at is usually the best way to go. So before you lose yourself in all that's around you now, be willing to work to find yourself during your time here.

I've given you a lot of advice in a short amount of time. And I'm sure that others today will do the same. Do with it what you want, but if nothing else, keep it in the back of your mind. Here we are, living life live, and it's important to live it to the absolute fullest we can. Audeamus, Class of 2018. Let Us Dare to be different, to take the world by storm, and to start right here, right now.

Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 90 residential undergraduate and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition. For the fourth year in a row, Champlain was named a "Most Innovative School" in the North by U.S. News & World Report's 2019 "America's Best Colleges,” and a “Best Value School” and is ranked in the top 100 “Regional Universities of the North” and in the top 25 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” Champlain is also featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2019 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and is a 2019 College of Distinction. For more information, visit