It’s that time of year when the collective wisdom of the human race is reduced to bite-sized portions and spoon fed to those in whose hands the future resides.
We speak, of course, of graduation day and the speakers who exhort a new generation to succeed where previous generations fumbled the ball on the goal line.
Is anyone listening? A few perhaps, but conventional wisdom holds that the life expectancy of graduation speech is about 15 minutes. After all, there’s more partying than pondering taking place on graduation day.
For those of you whose minds might have been elsewhere during your graduation ceremony, we offer snippets of some really smart speeches we have read over the years. Next time you run into your local journalist, thank him or her for being there to jot them down:
"Be as bold as the first man or woman to eat an oyster." - Shirley Chisholm, congresswoman.
"A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad." - Theodore Roosevelt.
"When you leave here, don't forget why you came." - Adlai Stevenson.
"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance!" - Andy McIntyre.
"The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit." - Nelson Henderson.
“So, what’s it like in the real world? Well, the food is better, but beyond that, I don’t recommend it.” ---Bill Watterson.
“You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world.” --- Tom Brokaw.
“I want to congratulate you all upon your graduation from the University of Maryland College of Journalism, and wish you luck as you prepare to embark on exciting careers in telemarketing or large-appliance repair." ---Gene Weingarten.
“Never go to your high school reunion pregnant or they will think that is all you have done since you graduated.” --- Erma Bombeck.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.” ------J.K. Rowling.
“If your uniform isn't dirty, you haven't been in the game.” ---Ben Bernanke.
“For the most important decisions in your life, trust your intuition, and then work with everything you have, to prove it right.” --- Tim Cook.
“Life has a very simple plot: first you're here and then you're not.” --- Eric Idle.
“You get to make your own luck. 80% of success in your career will come from just showing up. The world is run by those who show up…not those who wait to be asked.” --- Steve Blank.
"Build resilience in yourselves. When tragedy or disappointment strike, know that you have the ability to get through absolutely anything. I promise you do. As the saying goes, we are more vulnerable than we ever thought, but we are stronger than we ever imagined." --- Sheryl Sandberg.
“Be Santa Claus when you can.” --- Jimmy Buffett.
"Take your risks now. As you grow older, you become more fearful and less flexible…Limit your 'always' and your 'nevers.' Continue to share your heart with people even if it's been broken." --- Amy Poehler.
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” ----Winston Churchill.
"All that stands between the graduate and the top of the ladder is the ladder." --- Author Unknown.
“During my second year of nursing school our professor gave us a quiz. I breezed through the questions until I read the last one: What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?” Surely this was a joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Before the class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our grade. ‘Absolutely,’ the professor said. ‘In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.’ I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.” -Joann C. Jones.
Robert Rector is a veteran of 50 years in print journalism. He has worked at the San Francisco Examiner, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Valley News, Los Angeles Times and Pasadena Star-News. His columns can be found at Robert-Rector@Blogspot.Com. Follow him on Twitter at @robertrector1.