As it gets closer to graduation, many members of my family have been forwarding other commencement speeches from universities that have already released their Class of 2012 into the world.
Out of the many shared, two authors’ speeches deeply touched my heart and resonated with me: the late Marina Keegan, and Texas A&M alumnus Neal Boortz. Keegan’s speech was written for a special commencement edition of the Yale Daily News and was tragically killed in a car accident the weekend after graduation; and Boortz is a radio talk show host that had a few words he needed to say. Regardless of their situations, their words are exceptionally genuine and still ring quite true.
Keegan, like many student speakers, talked about her experience at Yale and her sentiments about graduating memories in such an eloquent way that every individual listening to it can see his or herself in that same position. I highly recommend reading this speech all the way through because there are definite moments and sentiments that I know all of us can relate to. Although there’s a slight melancholy undertone, her words still really hit home for me:
“But let us get one thing straight: the best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us and they are set for repetition as we grow up and move…We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense…that it is somehow too late…That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement…What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over…The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.”
To quickly sum up Boortz’s speech, he was brutally honest about the working world, the learning curve, public education and the newfound relationship graduates will be starting with the government. It’s a long read and he kind of gets on his soapbox about the government, it’s definitely worth a once over. All of us have been saying how happy we are to be done with school, but Boortz reminds us that our learning doesn’t end here:
“Just because you are leaving this place with a diploma doesn’t mean the learning is over. When [handed] my private pilot’s license many years ago, [I was told], ‘Here, this is your ticket to learn.’ The same can be said for your diploma. Believe me, the learning has just begun…”
Although there are many more takeaways from Boortz’s speech, I wanted to leave you with that. Our time at UofO has bitter sweetly come to an end and the Portland Senior Experience has prepared us well, I urge you to always stay curious, stay passionate and don’t ever lose your sense of wonder.