Information, Celebration, Inspiration (Academy President’s Blog)
05.15.13 - Exercises in Commencement
I admit it, I am a Commencement Ceremony Junkie. I love the academic regalia on the faculty: the different colors on our “hoods”, the different robes that we wear signifying our love of all things learning. I love the music of the ceremony: Pomp and Circumstance always give me chills no matter how many times I hear it, and actually whatever time of year I hear it!
I love the speeches. I know that the person giving the address is hoping to be inspirational and meaningful. Most of the time, they are. I happily anticipate the newscast in late May when NBC News runs a wrap up of Commencement Addresses from universities from around the country.
I return to some of my favorite addresses for inspiration. Steve Jobs at Stanford in 2005: “You’ve got to find what you love… Your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
In 2012, NBC anchor Brian Williams delivered the address at George Washington University that went viral immediately. Filled with humor and self-deprecating stories, (he actually dropped out of GW!). At the end of the address, he challenged the graduates: “Please: take us somewhere. Keep us moving, push us somewhere, make us better.”
I do often think of the poor speaker! The pressure to inspire and be memorable is great. Say something memorable, and the speech is shared and repeated throughout the spring. Be boring, and be the subject of ridicule at every family’s gathering that afternoon. I once attended a graduation where the speaker tried to make a metaphor of driving north on Interstate-95 and how we are on a similar life journey. In his metaphor New York City was his goal (I don’t know why). His speech was punctuated with him yelling to the crowd: “and is that New York City?” There are still people in my life I can say that line to and get a laugh. So, the speech was memorable, if not comprehensible.
My favorite speaker of course was my own mother who spoke in 1994 at the high school I attended (many years after I graduated) when she was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates. I remember that she decided to memorize her speech so she wouldn’t have to wear her glasses, she put on her cap at home with her own mirror and hairspray (so she drove to the graduation with her cap on, saying to me “I guess I look like a graduate of driving school”) and she gave a speech still remembered today. In fact, one young woman came to my mother’s funeral because she told me that my mother inspired her on her graduation day.
And, this Saturday, St. Mary’s Academy 138th Commencement Exercises will be sure to be inspirational, in and of itself. To call it a beautiful morning is an understatement. Just imagine, if you will:
The setting: St. Mary’s Academy campus, just a tad to the north of the softball/baseball field.
The view: Breathtaking Colorado mountain view.
The program: Student presenters who will share prayers, reflections and song.
The Graduate Address: Sarah Castle ’02, US Attorney and four-time Paralympic athlete.
The highlight: The conferring of 54 well-deserved, hard-earned SMA diplomas to 54 extraordinary and impressive young women.
The experience: Truly priceless.
Come on by if you are in the neighborhood. You’ll love it.