Commencement season draws to a close this weekend with ceremonies for graduates of the five high schools in Fort Wayne Community Schools. But the advice graduates across the country received is worth reviewing.
For those with new diplomas in hand and for anyone else who might need an inspirational boost, here are words of wisdom from some 2012 commencement speakers:
Oprah Winfrey, at Spelman College in Atlanta:
You must have some vision for your life. Even if you dont know the plan, you have to have a direction in which you choose to go. What I learned is that thats a great metaphor for life. You want to be in the drivers seat of your own life because if you are not, life will drive you.
Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball and The Blind Side, at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J.:
The Moneyball story has practical implications. If you use better data, you can find better values; there are always market inefficiencies to exploit, and so on. But it has a broader and less practical message: Dont be deceived by lifes outcomes. Lifes outcomes, while not entirely random, have a huge amount of luck baked into them. Above all, recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck – and with luck comes obligation. You owe a debt, and not just to your Gods. You owe a debt to the unlucky.
Colin Powell, at Northeastern University in Boston:
All of us have to get involved. And I hope that each of you, as you move out in life, will do what you can to reach down, back and across to help a young person stay in school and reach their potential. Find a program that you can get involved in. You are the educated role model that kids can look up to. Be part of the solution. Make service a part of your life. Dont go about trying to save the world. Youll start saving the world by just saving one kid.
President Obama, at Barnard College in New York City:
Those who oppose change, those who benefit from an unjust status quo, have always bet on the publics cynicism or the publics complacency. Throughout American history, though, they have lost that bet, and I believe they will this time as well. But ultimately, Class of 2012, that will depend on you. Dont wait for the person next to you to be the first to speak up for whats right. Because maybe, just maybe, theyre waiting on you.
And, finally, this gem from David McCullough, a Wellesley, Mass., teacher (and son of the famous historian by the same name) in a speech to Wellesley High School graduates that went viral on the Internet as the youre not special speech:
Youre not special. Contrary to what your soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh-grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers, and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you youre nothing special
Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion – and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that youre not special. Because everyone is.