So you all know exactly what you’re going to do with your lives now, right? Ha! Sorry, they always say to start these things with a joke.
Anyway, welcome Class of 2017 to your graduate school graduation. I am your commencement speaker: an esoteric authority in your field. While your undergraduate speaker most likely represented unbridled possibility, such as an astronaut or the founder of Tinder, I represent decades of sensible risk management and tireless work. Congratulations again on your degree!
First of all, let’s have a round of applause for your faculty. They were your exacting mentors and guides. Now, all of them look like clowns in their weird hats and colorful hoods. Your faculty everyone!
I have to say, when I look out at the almost sixty percent of you that chose to show up today, I am filled with hope. I can tell by your nervous glances towards the reception tent that you’re only here to glut yourself on the free snacks. That is the kind of literal hunger that will help you in the work place. Let’s be honest, if you’re planning to work in academia or for a nonprofit, they will probably pay you in cheese cubes. Is that a Tupperware I see under your mortarboard? I couldn’t be more proud.
Look around you. Look at your classmates. You’ll never have to do a group project with these jerks ever again.
Without a doubt, you learned so much from group projects. You learned that Dave always seems to show up an hour late to meetings. And that when he says his edits are in, he’s lying, because Google Docs can track peoples’ activity, DAVE. You learned that you hate Dave deeply, but you won’t give him the scathing peer evaluation he deserves because, as you also learned, you’re scared of conflict. Now that’s an education.
As a team member and as an individual, you have done so much hard work to get here. By now, you probably know a certain seat in your favorite coffee shop better than a mother knows her child. You love that seat. You named her Shirley. Shirley has heard all about Dave. When you see a stranger sitting in Shirley, you want to cut them. Well, I’m here to tell you that all the hard work has paid off. Now, you can graduate and take some space from that coffee shop before you steal Shirley and buy a little farm together in Montana.
Finally, I would like to close by encouraging you to keep asking questions. As you enter the workforce, ask, “How can we do this better?” You are now the catalysts for change. People will ask you exciting new questions as well, such as, “What do you do for work?” And, “Where’s my money?” You would think the federal government would be more eloquent, but that’s pretty much how it goes when you have enough student loan debt to strangle a shark.
As you leave this auditorium I encourage you to remember the friendships and experiences of your graduate education. You now have letters to file after your name and a diploma to hang on your wall. So without further ado, here are your cheese cubes.