Alumni Perspective by Cashey Shatraw, shared at the 2019 Walden Graduation:
"I want to begin first and foremost by congratulating the members of the 6th grade class for achieving one of many personal and academic milestones.
As a fellow graduate of Walden, I too sat where you sit today, thinking of the future and asking myself, what's next? What do I want to do when I grow up? Where do I want to go to school? What do I want to do in my free time? Who do I want to spend time with? What do I want to contribute to my community?
In school we are taught to use our brain to solve problems and answer these questions. Seems pretty straightforward. Of course, I encourage you to use your brain, but I'd also like to take a moment to encourage you to use your other brain, not just the one between your ears, but the one, about a foot lower.
You see there's a reason the gut is often referred to as the 2nd brain; it can be a nucleus of intuition, hence the phrase 'a gut feeling.' Our gut can alert us to when something is wrong, or when something is right, like the feeling of butterflies in your stomach before a test, or a sense of calmness that leads you towards the right direction.
It was a gut feeling that guided me to attend Waverly in Pasadena for middle school, St. Francis in La Canada for high school, and Emerson in Boston for college. It was a gut feeling that told me to pursue my passion for video editing, which led to my current full-time position at the internet production company collegehumor. And it was a gut feeling that led me to be surrounded by the encouraging and supportive people I'm proud to call my friends.
Your gut, your intuition, it's stronger than you think. It's something no gradebook test or quiz can measure, and only you, and you alone, can be the one who truly listens to it.
Class of 2019, if I can give you one more piece of advice today, because Walden has already given you so many at this point it's probably getting hard to keep track, it's to listen and to follow your gut.
Let your intuition guide you when choosing an institution to study at, let your gut lead the way as you decide upon a passion to pursue, and let your instincts gravitate you towards the kinds of friends you want to surround yourself with.
Follow your intuition, follow your gut, follow your instincts.
To quote Henry David Thoreau, it's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see,
Allow your brain to do what it does best, look at things. But let your gut help you determine what it is that you actually see.