Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Commencement Address Wisdom: Not Just for Kids

If "youth is wasted on the young," as George Bernard Shaw once observed, then it seems fitting that commencement speeches - and particularly those with unusually perceptive insights, wit, and wisdom - are wasted on those eager to commence.

I don't know about you, but I remember virtually nothing about the commencement addresses I've endured through the years...no pithy quotes, no resonant nuggets of wisdom. I'm sure there were quotes and nuggets aplenty, but back then, I simply couldn't hear them. I was too busy, er, commencing.

Now that I've slowed my pace enough to listen and actually hear the insights and advice offered by this year's crop of commencement speakers, I am humbled. Inspired. Challenged.

I hope you will be, too. Here are a few highlights for the Class of 2009 - and for us all.

"The world is in need of bright minds. Individuals who seek to spread peace and prosperity by the way they conduct themselves and the value they place on the lives of others and on life itself. These people, by way of their concern and awareness, whether they know it or not—are leaders. You lead through kindness, generosity, tolerance, innovation, the quest for knowledge and a basic, resolved goodness that is incorruptible, inexhaustible and undefeatable." Henry Rollins, Pop Culture Renaissance Man, speaking at Sonoma State University
"...the world needs your inexperience. There is something about the fresh perspective, the naïveté, the limitless energy that comes along with youth and inexperience that enables recent graduates to solve problems that many more experienced people have given up on." Wendy Koop, founder of Teach for America, at Washington University
"Careers focused on lifting up our communities - whether it's helping transform troubled schools or creating after-school programs or training workers for green jobs. These careers are not always obvious, but today they are necessary." First Lady Michelle Obama at the University Of California-Merced

"There's nothing wrong with money or position. But at the end of the day, the source of true happiness and success is that you have that sense of personal satisfaction of knowing that you are doing something of value for the society that you are a part of."
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell at Franklin & Marshall College

Find more commencement day highlights at CBS Evening News.

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