As a 2018 commencement speaker, Natiya Reggans shared a simple and powerful message: You are enough.
Natiya Reggans ’18 remembers standing in front of the judging panel like she was auditioning for American Idol. Her hope: to be selected as one of the speakers for commencement 2018. At the end of her speech, she was told she’d hear back in a day or two. Thirty minutes later, she got the call: She’d been selected as a commencement speaker.
In May, Reggans didn’t just join her peers in crossing the stage to receive her degree in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling. She delivered a commencement address on the power of knowing you are enough. In this interview, Reggans talks us through the message of her speech.
What did your commencement speech focus on?
I can give you Cliff Notes. My speech addressed the class to just basically understand that they are enough, that they’ve been prepared by Columbia to do anything they put their minds to. I spoke to the faculty, my parents and friends, and the class directly.
I illustrated how Columbia has handcrafted the perfect formula of faculty and staff who have modeled what it means to be a pioneer in the industry, and then come back and serve to the community. And I addressed how the community was in fact our students—how [faculty and staff] gave back to community through us—and how that’s exactly why I believe we are called upon this earth: to serve and to take the knowledge that is learned and give back to the next generation.
What are your post-grad plans?
Through Columbia, our department asks us to do an eight-month internship where we have to complete 700 hours in order to qualify for a degree. My internship was at Timberline Residential Treatment Facility in Lemont, Illinois, and they offered me a job. Straight out of graduation, I will be working through them. So that’s really, really exciting. That’s one more blessing of not having the stress about trying to find a job.
What do you hope people take away from your speech?
That no matter what your race, your age, your sexual orientation, your gender—no matter what your difference—you are valued in this world. You are enough. You can make such a big difference if you believe in yourself, if you believe in what Columbia has instilled in us.