Challenge Your Future


My 2011 Commencement Address

Snow PileWinter ended a week ago, and that means it’s graduation time. So I am happy to be here delivering my 2011 commencement address.

Graduates, distinguished members of the faculty, salutorian, valedictorian and vegetarians. I guess that covers everyone.

I come here today not to tell you how to live your lives; that’s the federal government’s job. But a commencement speech without a few words of advice would be boring – and it is my solemn duty as your commencement speaker to bore you to tears.

Graduates, as you go through life, learn to ask forgiveness, not permission. Or is it the other way around? Oh well. If it doesn’t work out, I give you permission to forgive me.

Never make plans more than a day in advance. What sounded like a good idea three weeks ago often grows less appealing with the passage of time. Take this speech for example.

Don’t let others look down on you because you are young. Those ridiculous caps and gowns are reason enough.

I advise you strongly to consider furthering your education by seeking an advanced degree. The longer you stay out of the job market the better it is for the rest of us.

If nothing else, I hope my speech here today teaches you how to handle disappointment.

Graduates, when I was your age, my generation believed that money was the root of all evil. We have since learned that that was wrong. The root of all evil is actually the Internet. Just ask Anthony Weiner.

Tierney signWhich brings me to my next piece of advice: follow the news. If you had been following the news, you would know about this really old congressman named Anthony Weiner who Tweeted lewd photos of himself to a girl your age and then lied about it. Let Mr. Weiner’s horribly embarrassing misjudgment be a lesson to you. Never, ever believe a member of Congress.

As still another prominent figure in the news lately could tell you – don’t forget your American history. Otherwise, you might think that on the night of April 18-19, 1775, Paul Revere rode to warn the Americans. Technically and literally, if course, those he warned were British subjects until July 4, 1776.

School hallwayBut if you wanted boring facts you’d stay in school. So let’s talk sports. How about those Bruins, eh? There’s no hockey like summer hockey, I always say, although it was so cold last week that I’m pretty sure I saw people skating on the Lake.

But seriously, as you go though life, you’ll find that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel, even if it’s just people burning the candle at both ends.

Well, they say that all good things come to an end, and fortunately for you, the same is true of bad things.

So I’ll conclude by saying that whether you plan to continue your education or do something useful, always remember one thing. Education is not cheap, and it certainly isn’t free. But if you think education is expensive, wait till you get my bill for this speech.

[This column originally appeared in the June 9, 2011 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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One Response to “Challenge Your Future”

  1. 1 Dennis Clancy

    That was a scream! Professor Wagstaff would be so proud of you.

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