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Response to “The Commencement Speech You’ll Never Hear”

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Let me commence by saying that your speech is refreshingly honest, rare as that is in these corridors of academia. That you begin by admitting that all the years I have spent in this institution in the quest for education was almost a complete waste of time academically has to be lauded, however, I disagree on the fact that you think the faculty is part to blame. It is true that most of my education was theory and that I have little to no skills in my areas of specialization, but the blame for that falls, not on you, my dedicated teachers, but on the entire system of education. I share in your disappointment, but I’m not to blame either. For as long as anyone can remember, coming to the university has been associated with freedom. True, we all apply for places in colleges and universities with the best of intentions at heart; to be empowered to pursue our dreams by acquiring knowledge and skills. We always have everything well- envisioned and figured out;  come to school, read, graduate and get a well- paying job with a prestigious employer, the best there is in that field. But then, life always has its bag of surprises in store, and, for almost everyone, nothing turns out the way they imagined it would. Things begin to change rapidly once you realize the amount of freedom you have to do what you want. It is limitless, and the discovery of this is thrilling to no end. Finally, you can do anything, anything you have ever dreamed of. You are in control of your finances, I mean, the spending part of it, you can interact with whoever you choose without your family getting in the way...it’s amazing. But then there is a down side to it, and that, I believe, is what prompted you to write the speech. The euphoria wears off, sooner or later, and reality sets in. The kind of people in your hometown or wherever you came from are the same kinds of people here, only younger, or way older, better dressed, or not, more learned, or so they seem to be. Society is still the same. It wants something from you, it has things to offer you, the choice is up to you as regards what to give, and what to accept in return. Freedom is not freedom after all, consequences have to be faced for any decision you make. Dear sir, all these you know, and understand better than most of us do. After all, you have been around longer. However, I needed to remind you that all these factors push us to become the people we eventually end up being in campus. Life is the enemy. It is the friend. It places us in changing situations, and at times we have no choice but to oblige. If someone told me  four years ago that I would be here responding to a commencement speech that would never be heard, I would have thought them crazy. After all, I was never one to settle down, especially not in an academic setting, preferring instead to be the life of the party. But you know my type, only, thankfully, I grew out of it, sort of crashed and burned, to stillness. All I’m saying is you are right. It is true that we have argued about why our errors were not errors, why our mediocre work was excellent and that we took pride in routine, and that that is a big shame. But it is also true that life has catapulted us into different unexpected situations over the years so that during our time in campus, some discovered their true purpose in life while others still have no clue about that. Some of us had children, and others, unfortunately, died. Things have happened that have made us who we are right now. We all came here aware of what was expected of us in order to attain academic success, but we could not live in rigidity. Life was happening. And, like I said before, the entire system of education did not help at all. Theories will do little to help us in our careers out there, so, at least we came out with life experience. Someone once said that it is best to live life now, because some years to come, it is not the things we did that we will regret most, rather, those that we did not do. Finally sir, I have to agree with your words of wisdom, and in the same breath state my utmost gratitude for work well done by the entire faculty. You were not just our teachers, you were our parents in a home away from home. Therefore, I will take your teachings summarized in this commencement speech with me wherever I go, and hope that so will my colleagues. That we will not defend errors but learn from them and that we shall never quit in our quest for success no matter what.

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