What would you tell them?

Commencement season is winding down, and Ann Curry is in the news for making it more memorable than I am sure she would like it to be. I have always enjoyed listening to Ann on the Today Show. She comes across as interesting, knowledgeable and nice. I hate to see her embarrassed, and I love Wheaton College’s (Massachusetts) response. 

Her situation reminded me of two things:

1. Not to take myself too seriously – mishaps and mistakes happen, best to make sincere amends and gently move on, and now moving on . . .

2. Graduation speeches I like. One of my favorites is often attributed to Kurt Vonnegut, who is one of my favorite authors, but credit for the speech rightfully goes to Chicago Tribune columnist  Mary Schmich for mentioning the importance of wearing sunscreen, among other things. 

Rereading Schmich’s words inspired me to ask myself, “What would I say to the Class of 2010?  What tidbits of wisdom would I pass on?”

What would you tell them?

(Did something surprising just pop into your head?  If so, it might be an honest reflection of how your life is going at the moment. Sometimes our mental pop-ups can be valuable to us; I get them all the time – who knew I was even thinking that? They are actually good, and mean we are willing to look at who we really are. If what popped-up wasn’t what you wanted to hear, remember any awareness is good awareness; note it and move on.)

I would love to hear your speech, I truly believe we each have unique wisdom to pass on. Here’s what I would tell any and all graduating classes, because it is what I keep trying to do. 

Patrice’s short and sweet commencement speech:

1. Let people have their say.

2. Don’t let being afraid stop you from doing what is right – for the world or for yourself.

3. Sometimes doing “right” is just listening.

4. Sometimes it is reaching out and touching someone.

5. Sometimes it is doing something.

6. Sometimes, way less than the others, it is saying something.

7. Learn the difference and do that.

And, then I would share Christopher Robin’s (aka A.A. Milne’s) immortal words to Winnie the Pooh: “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”      

Because you are.


  1. I asked this recently of the adult conversation group in Bitola and one response that surprised me was that the group encouraged graduates to go to university somewhere outside their hometown so that they learned greater independence and were exposed to a new cultural environment–sounds smart to me.


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