On June 21, Elvis Shakjiri, founding member of Romalitico, gave a remarkable commencement speech at the CEU graduation 2015. 


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Welcome, distinguished guests, members of the CEU Board, CEU faculty and staff, family, and friends! My fellow graduates... check your pulses ---- we have survived!

I’d like to congratulate all families present with us today. This is also your victory. Without your love and support, we wouldn’t have made it. Let me thank my wife Nadire for all of the help and support. Without her I would never have had the strength to succeed. To my legal studies family: I have a wide margin of appreciation for all the memories we shared this year and you know what I mean.

When we began our journey at CEU, we were eager learners, hopeful activists, and dream chasers. Today, we are a step closer to becoming great thinkers, skillful leaders, and history makers.

I stand before you. The second child in my family, the first to go to college. A kid with a dream and a lot to cry about.Coming from a sweet piece of land called Macedonia- my home. A place full of hope and also devastation.

Throughout my life, I faced injustice, as many other Roma do in Europe. That experience made me believe and fight for justice. I said to myself and to my family that justice must be the cure for all sickness. They laughed, but I was serious.

I dedicated my life to serving justice and equality. Then, out of the blue, the human rights program at CEU appeared in my Facebook news feed. There is a place where many others like me believe and fight for justice.

But how do I get there?

I entered the Roma Access Program– the initiative for empowering young Roma to follow their dreams. I salute the program and strongly urge all educational institutions to follow this example. The Human Rights Program has equipped me with the necessary knowledge to contribute to my community. We are now more able than ever before to improve our situation. We are Europe’s hope for peace and prosperity.

As members of the CEU family, we should always fight for what we believe in and what we stand for. Our lives would be very different if courageous leaders before us didn’t speak up. We must dare to do the same for the next generation.

In our university, professors become our mentors and our classmates are often our teachers. Yet, we also learn beyond the words of lectures and pages of books. I learned a lot about you and you learned a lot about me. We exchanged stories about our histories, cultures, and faith. Learning about your communities taught me the importance of remembering my own.

CEU gives us the power to face the real world. When you leave today, don’t forget why you choose CEU. Our paths will not always be clear, and we will face obstacles and challenges. There is no roadmap; we must begin to draw our own. But the knowledge and skills we now possess will guide us. I will not tell you to change the world because you already have and I will not tell you to go make a difference because you already do.

Congratulations and good luck on your journey!