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​​A Four Year Reflection: Matthew Fanikos '17

Philosopher, actor and artist to address the Class of 2017 as student commencement speaker

BRISTOL, R.I. – Your car is packed up, cap and gown on a hanger (hopefully) and a date with the front gate’s fountain set for 12 a.m. on May 20. But have you stopped to think about what it all means? Matthew Fanikos ’17 has been combing through four years of memories and experiences, crafting his speech for the fateful day where more than a thousand tassels turn from right to left, putting a literal and figurative cap on an important chapter of your lives.

For Fanikos, the speech is something that’s been kicking around in the back of his mind for the last year. “I thought I could deliver a really transparent message that would relate to every student and make the parents and faculty in the audience proud.”

Because the day isn’t about him, and neither is the speech. “The last thing I wanted to do is make it about myself, but I feel like even though everyone’s experience is unique to them, there’s a lot of shared experiences that we all have that you can resonate on.”

But Fanikos hasn’t been calmly moving through it all. “I was having my miniature graduation freak out throughout senior year. You realize it’s your last year. You want to make it your best year of college. You want to make sure you’re spending it with the right people; people that are going to stick with you.”

“In these last few weeks I’m just trying to soak it up. Put a cap on everything that’s happened here and have a lot of fun, because it has been a ton of fun,” says Fanikos. “Now, I’m thinking forward. What are you going to do to make this time worth it? How are you going to grow from your experiences here?” Let the question sit with you. The answer is entirely up to you and what you do with the path ahead.

“As a Philosophy major, one of my biggest fears in life is intellectually plateauing and not being intellectually stimulated,” says Fanikos, who was drawn to Philosophy as a new topic with a fresh opportunity to not only learn, but learn how to learn from great philosophers throughout history.

"So, Class of 2017, continue to grow. Continue to question. Continue to reflect. But above all, continue. This isn’t the end, just a checkpoint. Congratulations and good luck."