Congratulations to all GSAS students for having completed another semester of graduate school! But I’m extending an extra-special congratulations to all those who graduated on Saturday. What a gorgeous day for a commencement ceremony!
I myself partook in two undergraduate graduation celebrations this weekend. One was for my youngest sister, graduating from NYC’s Parson’s School of Design at The New School, and the other was for my future sister-in-law, who graduated from my undergrad alma mater, Lafayette College. So proud of both of these young women! It was strange , however, going back for commencement to good old Lafayette, ten years having passed since my own! I was long overdue due for a refresher in Commencement-Speech Appreciation 101.
For all three commencements, the speakers’ messages seemed to harmonize with each other beautifully. The speaker for the ceremony at The New School was Robert Hammond, one of the critical forces behind the creation and launch of the Manhattan High Line; he reflected on rejection as a stepping stone to creation: "Rejection can be a good teacher, and sometimes you almost need to seek it out to be freed from it," said Hammond. "When you see the High Line, I hope it reminds you that crazy dreams can come true."
|photo by Chris Taggert.|
At Fordham’s ceremony, the current deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism and homeland security, Fordham alumni John Brennan, ’77, gave the commencement address. Discussing concepts such as integrity and justice, he also made a point about determination similar to Hammond’s: "There is no free lunch," he said. "You will need to work hard and overcome obstacles, probably more times than you think you should."
Bronx native movie director Garry Marshall was the speaker at Lafayette’s commencement exercises – and what a refreshingly down to earth speaker he was! His refrain, in accordance with both Hammond’s and Brennan’s addresses, was about resilience: “Get whacked, and bounce back,” he quipped, repetitiously for rhetorical effect. Marshall’s charmingly humble anecdotes reminded graduating students – and perhaps a certain graduate student in the audience – that success comes after many setbacks, many failures, and many, many revised drafts.
Overall, it seemed to be an inspiring, lovely weekend to begin our summers and, for the members of the graduating class, to begin the next phase of their lives.
My question for readers: Can you recall a commencement speech from your life that has stayed with you? Who spoke? Where? What did it mean to you? What about graduation horror stories? Share your thoughts here!!
Have a wonderful commencement to your week! -- Liza