Michael Sean Harris's Student Speech

May 13, 2000

Here we are on the shout chorus of our lives as Berklee students, and as the mathematicians say, the last year of the twentieth century. And as we exchange telephone numbers and e-mail addresses and hang out with friends we might not see for a long time to come, it is starting to sink in. It is becoming very clear that even though we are all individuals and express ourselves as such, we have all been together as a part of something bigger, something constant and never ending.

Even before we arrived at Berklee, we focused our talent and our desires, and tuned in to a rhythm, a melody, a chord, some progression that we could not ignore, some ethereal song that enchanted our heart like a pied piper, weaving a tale so intricate and profound, it swept us away.

No one else quite understood us. We were special.

We knew we could not resist. There was nothing else in the world we wanted to do but music. Some of us tried, but if we didn't make music with our instrument, our heart would find a way to make us play, create—entertain.

So "the song" led us to Berklee, this place where so many others before us had tuned in to "the song," changed it, rearranged it, remixed it, broke it down to its bare elements, and fell in love with it.

I knew the moment I walked through the door—I belong here. He looks different; she speaks another language; I am from another country; and we all belong here, together as Berklee citizens. And we made the song our own.

I'm from Jamaica, a small island in the Caribbean, and I've never suffered from being small-minded. However, my Berklee experience has expanded my mind to the corners of the earth. The greatest contribution any of us can make to "our song," this life we call music, is our knowledge, love, and understanding of each other. We learn that here at Berklee in a big way. We are taught in class the technical and aesthetic details of music but the way we make that music special and alive is by how we shade and colour it with life experience.

At Berklee, you feel like a true citizen of the world. At any point in the day you can walk down a hall and not understand a word that's being said because it's not your native tongue, and you'll wonder for a second, "What country am I in? Oh yeah—cool, I'm at Berklee."

Here we have made the connections that will last us the rest of our lives, friendships and partnerships whose ties may stretch across continents, but will never break. For this, more than anything, I am grateful to have been a part of such a unique experience.

But shed not even one tear of sorrow because this is not the end. "The song" never ends, and as we, the graduating class of the year 2000, leave this cradle of knowledge and creativity, we have our mission ahead. We are charged with the important duty of ushering in this new century of song for the rest of the world. We have the task of showing others their part in "the song" and helping them to sing—no, shout in celebration!

Let us all shout our last chorus with a hip-hip hoorah. My friends and fellow musicians—to us, the Berklee graduating class of the year 2000:

Hip-hip Hurrah!
Hip-hip Hurrah!

    Thank you.

    Michael Sean Harris graduated in 2000 with a dual major in Contemporary Writing and Production/Music Synthesis. He is from Saint Catherine, Jamaica.