A Malaysian Student’s Inspiring Speech At Commencement Ceremony

Social media is filled with viral content, from your trendy challenges to saucy scandals- so it’s not surprising that inspiring stories of young graduates sometimes don’t make the list. We’re here to fix that, though!

At the halls of University of Wisconsin–Madison in Wisconsin, United States, a young Malaysian graduate by the name of Lisa Kamal was picked as the student keynote speaker, giving out her memorable speech to more than 1,200 graduating students during the commencement ceremony.

a malaysian student’s inspiring speech at commencement ceremonyPhoto: University of Wisconsin–Madison

Lisa began her journey halfway across the world at the prestigious university four years ago, under a  scholarship programme run by Petronas.

Following the footsteps of her parents, who have also gone to colleges in the US, she chose Geology as her major, participating in field research and working together with the Wisconsin Geological & Natural History Survey.

Lisa began her speech quoting the (albeit a slightly modified) song “The Story Of Tonight” from the popular musical Broadway, Hamilton, encouraging all graduates to “raise a glass to freedom”.

Being miles away from her loved ones and working hard to achieve her academic goals, she shared that the lyrics from the song was her coping mechanism back in University.

"My second year in college, I suffered burnout to the point of losing motivation to finish this degree," she said in her speech. But Kamal got through the many struggles during her university years with the support of her friends and the college itself.

“There is everyday human experiences that give weight and substance to this certificate you are about to receive,” she told her fellow graduates. “Every sacrifice, every bit of energy you dragged out of you every morning — even if all you managed to do was scratch the bare minimum. You are graduating today. You did enough and I am proud of you. I am immensely proud of you,” she adds as a finishing touch.

There to witness her achievement, was her parents who had travelled thousands of miles for their daughter’s convocation ceremony,

“We travelled 23 hours to get there and braved the winter cold, but it's all worth it," Mustapha, Lisa’s father, said in an interview with NBC 15.

"I remember when she was performing when she was six years old, performing a small dance, it had me crying. But now at 22, giving a speech for a crowd on a big screen, that's amazing," Mustapha continued.

Since her story has been shared around on Twitter, many have come forth to congratulate this brilliant and intelligent graduate and hoping that people like her are the future of Malaysia.

Congratulations Lisa! We are all proud of you!