Student Commencement Speaker Took a Leap of Faith

Kristy Grinere ’13, who presented the student address at Rider’s 148th Undergraduate Commencement, says you must leave your comfort zone to experience life.
Friday, May 17, 2013

Many of Kristy Grinere’s most enduring memories occurred because she was brave enough to step out of her comfort zone.

“A friend once told me to do one thing every day that scares you,” explained Grinere, who presented the student address at Rider’s 148th Undergraduate Commencement on May 17. “That way of thinking has affected me greatly, in that I even tried out to be the Commencement speaker – I wanted to do something to challenge myself. That idea gave me the confidence and ability to do it.”

Though she admits to being generally nervous about change, Grinere also realizes that the transformative experience of her time at Rider is exactly what has prepared her and her classmates for what lay ahead. That is perhaps her strongest motivation to speak to them at Commencement. By challenging themselves, she wants them to know, they can author experiences that will ultimately serve as the foundation for all they hope to accomplish in life.

“I want to leave a message to them that we are about to experience something different, a time of lots of change, but that we’ll get through it because of all we learned in and out of the classroom,” said the Journalism major. “I’m not a big fan of change, but I take comfort in all the important things I learned here. It’s definitely time to go out and find bigger and better things, to realize our potential.”

While the sound of Grinere’s voice will not be familiar to the thousands in attendance on the Lawrenceville campus green when she steps up to the platform to speak, the St. James, N.Y., resident has been giving voice to the opinion and editorial pages of The Rider News, the University’s award-winning student newspaper. There, she excels in the often difficult position of articulating the publication’s editorial voice as its opinion editor.

Writing wasn’t something Grinere had ever thought about before enrolling at Rider. In fact, she wasn’t drawn to the University by one particular academic program. In fact, she recalls that she had absolutely no idea what course of study to pursue as a freshman.

“It was actually kind of scary, to be honest,” recalled Grinere, who earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism with a minor in Multimedia and Web Design. “It seemed like everyone else had a really good idea of what they wanted to do, and I had none.”

What she did know, however, was that the Lawrenceville campus offered her a change to thrive because of the supportive atmosphere she immediately found.

“It was the feeling of being part of a community,” said Grinere, who sought a smallish, intimate campus like Rider’s. “The second I stepped foot on campus, I could tell people cared.”

Grinere enrolled in Compass, a forerunner to the current GLASS program, which offers undeclared and undecided students a variety of initiatives, through academic support and guidance, to help choose a major that is right for them. Through the program, she was encouraged to visit classes across a range of disciplines in search of the field that would pique her intellectual curiosity. Before long, Grinere found herself in an expository writing class, and the spark had been ignited.

“I was doing a lot of creative writing for the first time, and I really connected with it,” recalled Grinere, who quickly gravitated toward the Journalism program. “Once I figured out that’s what I wanted to do, it all changed.”

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Kristy Grinere ’13 presented the student address at Rider’s 148th Undergraduate Commencement.