My Commencement Address

20May10

Wakefield High SchoolI read with interest an article in last Friday’s Boston Globe about the intense competition faced by schools at this time of year as they try to land the most in-demand commencement speakers. My interest turned to eager anticipation when I got to the part where it said that some high-profile commencement speakers, like Rudy Giuliani, are paid up to $100,000 per appearance and are transported to and from graduation exercises by private jet.

At long last, I have found my calling.

I’m not kidding myself. I know I’m not in Rudy Giuliani’s league. But the Globe goes on to say that in this economy, some schools can’t afford the top tier talent. That’s why I’ve decided to make my services available at a steep discount. I’m willing to accept a mere $50,000 to deliver a commencement address anytime, anywhere. At that rate, I can deliver one or two speeches each spring, and spend the rest of the year doing what I do best – whatever that is.
US Senator Scott Brown
The Globe piece listed some of the most in-demand commencement speakers and the institutions that have tapped them to speak. Sen. Scott Brown recently addressed graduates at Nichols College. US Attorney General Eric Holder delivered commencement remarks last Sunday at BU. (No wonder he hasn’t had time to read the Arizona immigration law that he talks about litigating.) Last weekend, Rachel Maddow spoke to 800 graduates at Smith College, nearly double her MSNBC audience.

But even at my reasonable rates, I don’t expect any school to hire me without knowing what they’re getting. Herewith, I offer a sample commencement address.

Members of the faculty, faculty members, graduates of Generic Institute and Generic students. When I stop and reflect upon some of the people who have walked through the doors of this august institution, I can only wonder why there isn’t better security.

Yet I cannot help but note that there may be greatness in our midst here today. Among those of you receiving diplomas, there may be a future president of the United States, a Supreme Court Justice or a professional FarmVille player. But to achieve great success, you must not only dare to dream – you must first dare to sleep. I note that several of you in the front row are getting a head start in that process.

Let me assure you that I did not come here today to deliver some boring speech. That’s the class president’s job. For my part, I promise to be brief. I know that you are anxious to get to your graduation parties and your parents and grandparents are eager to update their Facebook status.

As you go through life, remember that the secret of happiness is having a purpose. And if you can’t have a purpose, a dolphin will do. Most people can’t tell the difference anyway.

Remember life is about attitude and outlook. Have you ever heard the expression “Is the glass half empty or half full?” If I had a nickel for every time I heard that expression, I’d have exactly $37.50, which shows that I should have charged a dollar.

Finally, I leave you with words to ponder from the ancient philosopher, Plato. “Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.”

With any luck, you won’t ponder that until after my check clears.

This column originally appeared in the May 20, 2010 Wakefield Daily Item.

[Rudy Giuliani photo by Marc Nozell.]

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