On Graduation

There’s a disease that takes over college and even high school seniors every year. It’s not fatal and in some instances not even harmful — but, see, the trouble is that it can be. What is it, you ask? Senioritis. It’s that seasonal phenomenon when seniors everywhere are literally counting down the days (minutes) till graduation. Are they ready to be official “adults”? (This would mainly apply to those graduating from a 2 or 4-year college as high school graduates are just about to take on 4 more years of university life). With diplomas in hand or just about to receive them, preparedness for entrance into the “real world” isn’t all that simple. Now that graduation is upon us (them), such a momentous occasion calls for reflection. I turn to the commencement speeches that were given this past week, strikingly different from those in the Gordon Gekko 80’s, reflecting the ever changing world in which we live.


Greeting the graduates this year, are relative unease and apathy about their futures. While computers and the Internet still hold revolutionary possibilities, they probably will not affect living standards or productivity the way the past 150 years did. Financial uncertainty  aside, we do have gay rights moving forward in a positive direction, and revolutionary movements for women in an overwhelmingly male dominated work force.

That being said, the addresses of 2013 were much more personal than years past, filled with self-deprecating humorous bits, and peppered with expectations to take risks. The loose tone coming from the speeches reflect looser times, and less rigid career expectations.

Yes, there were acknowledgements that making a living in this day and age could be hard, and that there may be failure along the way. There’s no more safety net (your parents will one day cut you off), and we live in an uncertain landscape. But one central message has not changed: Be who you are, yet, be engaged in the world around you. My favorite quote is from Melinda Gates who told Duke’s graduating class of  ’13, “All the hype about how connected you are has contributed to a counternarrative- that, in fact your generation is increasingly disconnected from the things that matter. The arguments go something like this: Instead of spending time with friends, you spend it alone collecting friend requests la di da. Reject the cynics who say technology is flattening your experiences of the world. Technology is just a tool. It’s a powerful tool, but it’s just a tool. Establish deep human connection and it will inspire the most amazing acts of love, generosity, and humanity…

With nothing concrete lined up, the diploma becomes a valid point of reference but it’s what you do with it that matters. Featured below is a starting point, as you salute the grad in your life who deserves a hearty CONGRATULATIONS! Here Here to his or her own set of keys, a new wallet to pocket the money they will have, a book to get them by the interviewing process, as well as decorations for their new pad. Watch out, they could be the next bomb dot coms.

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Collage by Carina Gupta

From left to right:  The Fault in Our Stars book for your reading pleasure, Coach tag key ring for that new apartment (oh the wishes!), Givenchy leather wallet, a Yankee cap for the true fan even after baseball season is over, Alexander McQueen silver-tone Swarovski crystal skull bracelet to shine on that interview, a DVF tangerine blazer for that creative job (on sale for $159 I might add) a poster for above your bed, BEATS by Dre headphones for listening to the new Yeezy album, some cool wall art and letters from Etsy, and throw in some Vans for good measure.

Now go ahead and find your path to success. And if you fail? “Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.” ~Oprah Winfrey.


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