Saturday, August 12, 2006

Commence to speaking

Last night was graduation and I was selected as commencement speaker. The text of my speech is below.

Mark Twain once said, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” For many of us, today’s graduation ceremony marks the end of our formal schooling; we will never again set foot in a classroom as a student. Others of us will continue on to graduate school, earning master’s and doctorial degrees. Whether today is the last day of school, or a mere pause before continuing studies, I challenge the class of 2006 us to remain students in our hearts and pursue the goal of lifelong learning.

What is lifelong learning? It is the continuing of education well beyond graduation. Knowledge is not gained only in the classroom. It can occur in the workplace, at home, and with wireless Internet access, even at McDonald’s. Lifelong learning means that we have an opportunity to continue our education without worrying whether a class will fit into our degree plan or whether some fact will be on a future test. The idea of lifelong learning puts our future education, and ultimately our own success, in our hands.

Often when we transition from school to the workplace, we place our education on a backburner. We learn what we need to know to do our jobs, but seldom do we strive to learn more; we become mediocre. Having been a working professional for 12 years before returning to graduate school, I often heard comments from co-workers that they were too busy to attend a specific training session, or that they would go back to school but only if their employer paid for it. While these people did okay in their jobs, they never quite excelled. The people who excelled in their jobs were those who valued education and took the initiative to learn everything they could.

One of the people closest to me has a philosophy of investing in himself; each year he takes 10 percent of his salary and applies to personal and career training. For each dollar he invests in his education, he receives that dollar back in form of a salary increase. If I had one piece of advice to give to graduates, it would be to invest in yourself and strive to be a superstar, not just mediocre.

Lifelong learning doesn’t have to be just career-related. We are now at the point in our lives where it is up to us to learn what we want to learn, when and how we want to learn it. Having a job doing corporate sales doesn’t preclude one from taking cooking classes if he or she wants to learn to be a gourmet chef. Someone with a degree is in mass communication can still study Japanese art if that is their passion. Some scholars argue that the true measure of learning is whether a student is passionate about a subject and continues to learn about that subject outside of the classroom. I would urge each of us to discover what things we are passionate about and learn all we can about those subjects. That is the true measure of lifelong learning.

Today may be the end of our schooling, but my hope for the class of 2006 is that it is the start of our education.


Anonymous said...

Cool speech. I wish I was there to see it in person.

Tom and Linda

Anonymous said...

I also wish I had been there. Your photos are awesome! I'm gonna print one and stick it in my office. Beautiful speech, too! Everyday, learn something new.

Anonymous said...

CONGRATULATIONS! All that hard work! Great speech, Dara. Hooray!
Auntie M.

Anonymous said...

Way to go, hope to see you again sometime.

Bonnie and Josh