Have you ever had somebody tell you that you couldn’t do something just because it wasn’t tradition? Just because it wasn’t the way it had always been done? It’s even worse when the person is a teacher or some other authority figure. Not only are you helpless in the situation, but you also feel some unnecessary guilt for
Donovan Livingston has had that experience. His high school English teacher threatened to have someone else replace him on the stage when he told her he was considering reciting a poem as part of his speech at his graduation ceremony. His frustrating experience has left him with some bones to pick with the education system.
But he hasn’t let this defeat stop him from changing things. Donovan believes in creativity and spontaneity and big dreams, all the things kids have that educators often mistakenly try to suppress. So he set his mind to becoming a teacher so he could help fix what he sees as problematic in the education system.
Now, a few years later, Donovan is graduating from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. And of course, his commencement speech is—you guessed it—a poem.
Watch the video below to hear Donovan’s inspirational spoken word poem, entitled “Lift Off.” The school is praising it as “one of the most powerful, heartfelt student speeches you will ever hear.”
If you want to appreciate the poem in all of its literary glory, you can find the written version here.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?