GRADUATION SPEECH, 2006

01May07

Well, that time of year is once more upon us, and again my commencement day speech has been written, re-written, polished and rehearsed. I am, in short, prepared to impart the following pearls of wisdom to any class of graduates at any school that will have me.

Excited graduates, anxious parents, overworked teachers and overpaid administrators, I am honored to be with you on this very significant day. I promise to be brief.

They say that the purpose of a commencement speech is to inspire, to stimulate thought. So if you take nothing else from my speech here today, you’ll at least have learned how to handle disappointment. And if you can’t take a little disappointment in life, you can always take steroids.

I firmly believe that technology will be the dominant feature of the coming decades. Today’s graduates will see the technological explosion continue, as future engineers will continue to provide us with new software and devices we didn’t know we needed to perform all those tasks we had no idea we wanted to do.

When it comes to commencement addresses, the most difficult part is avoiding clichés.

But I say this: Today is not an ending, but a beginning. You stand on the cusp of the future. These are the best years of your lives, so seize the day. You can be whatever you want to be, and you can make a difference.

It is important to have goals and to keep your eye on the prize. Never give up on your dreams. You can move mountains. You are the future of America.

Your generation faces an increasingly complicated technological world. But don’t be afraid to fail. You have nothing to fear but fear itself. And wikis.

As I look upon your faces today, I see tomorrow’s bright promise reflecting back at me. It’s either that or all the piercings.

When I was a young graduate learning to make my way in the world, it was in the days of political activism and social upheaval. Your generation faces many of the same challenges today. But remember: the easiest thing in the world is to sit back and do nothing.

The hard part is figuring out how to get paid for it.

[This column originally appeared in the Wakefield Daily Item.]

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