Select Page

Graduation Speakers: Life isn’t Easy, and That’s Life

Graduation Speakers: Life isn’t Easy, and That’s Life

April showers are supposed to bring May flowers but this year’s crop of college graduates are facing stern warnings about their future prospects. A Wall Street Journal article making the rounds across social media sources notes, “They’re the most indebted class ever. The average Class of 2014 graduate with student-loan debt has to pay back some $33,000, according to an analysis of government data.”

Employment opportunities for college grads aren’t looking a whole lot better, “The Labor Department has said that the unemployment rate for 2013 college graduates — defined as those ages 20 to 29 who earned a four-year or advanced degree — was 10.9 percent. That was down from 13.3 percent in 2012” writes the Associated Press.

All this dreary data hasn’t slowed down Central New York’s high-caliber educational institutions and many college graduation speakers were quick to offer advice that predicted a sunnier future.

“It’s traditional on graduation day for your elders to admit, as if it were ever a secret to you, that we, the old and the soon-to-be-so have screwed up the world on a colossal scale. We then go on to say we’re very sorry but now we’re going fishing. That’s a dodge, a dumb show of civilizational false modesty.”

–David Remnick, Speaking to the Class of 2014

At Cornell University, actor Ed Helms, who starred in The Office and The Hangover trilogy suggested, “My advice to you is to go out and be a movie star. It’s awesome!“

He soon transitioned saying, “As you look ahead and ponder your lives after four years of extensive learning… please remember to be a fool… Only fool would risk failure, be that fool… Only a fool would work hard when there is no clear objective, be that fool… When you try hard at everything you do even when it feels utterly foolish to do so you’re opening up doors and possibilities that you might not be seeing at the moment.”

David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker speaking to a captivated audience in the Syracuse University Carrier Dome said, “It’s traditional on graduation day for your elders to admit, as if it were ever a secret to you, that we, the old and the soon-to-be-so have screwed up the world on a colossal scale. We then go on to say we’re very sorry but now we’re going fishing. That’s a dodge, a dumb show of civilizational false modesty.”

He continued, “No one is insisting you all become global politicians or selfless activists. Some of you will spend nearly all of your time pursuing private, professional, and personal comforts and rewards. But that does not rule out your spending at least some significant time in the service of all.”

Up in Geneva New York, Glee co-creator and executive producer, Brad Falchuk spoke to the graduating classes of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, “Failure.  I have spent my life in a panic about it. But here is the thing – I hope you fail.  I hope you find yourself one day on the floor – metaphorically bloody, hopeless, sobbing over a dream that didn’t come true.  This would be my graduation gift to you.  I’m a storyteller.  My job is to create heroes.  And heroes are not born out of glory and success. Heroes can only come to life in the dark heart of failure.  This is my message to you – go forth and fail. Dream yourself to be the heroes your teachers, friends and family know you already are.”

Here’s the thing; the world isn’t easy. Nobody warned the class of 1928 that they were graduating into a doomed economy. The class of 1983 left their commencement and entered a terrible job market and a then record recession. Leaving college is always hard, but there is always room for people who are dedicated and thoughtful. The world is hard, but we make it. Time to get to work.

About The Author

Whitman Littlefield

Master of Science in New Media Management

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Welcome

This site celebrates the people places, and culture that make Central New York one of the most vibrant and livable regions in the country. From Auburn to Utica, from Syracuse, to Ithaca, this is LivableCNY.

Our Advertisers

Recent Tweets