Saturday, June 16, 2007

Words of Wisdom

UCLA is a pretty big school that could probably pull in some notable talent for graduation speakers. Yet, it does not give out honorary degrees and prefers to utilize alumni as speakers. While the school has some pretty amazing alumni, it certainly narrows the pool.

Last year's main graduation speaker was Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and at the Political Science Department Graduation we had former Mayor Richard Riordan. I decided not to go to the main graduation for several reasons, but I don't regret it because 1) Villaraigosa gave the same speech about "coming through the back door and coming out the front door" that I've already heard a million times and 2) I heard the student speaker was terrible. As for Riordan's speech, it was so incomprehensible that I felt bad for him.

When I heard that they got Kareem Abdul-Jabbar this year as the main speaker, I was extermely jealous. And after my friend David sent me this article about Kareem's speech, I was even more envious. The article said that Abdul-Jabbar's funny speech also advised graduates to pursue careers that will bring them both joy and improve the lives of others. (In addition to being 'the most prolific scorer in basketball history, Abdul-Jabbar also wrote books that promoted the lives of forgotten people of color and spent time coaching an Indian reservation basketball team.)

Instead of sleazy sounding lines about coming in through the backdoor (as you can tell, I don't care for our current mayor), these are the memorable lines that graduation speeches are supposed to have:

"I'm not claiming that you have to sell all your worldly possessions, wander the globe in rags, and, worse, cancel HBO . . . You should embrace and celebrate your pleasures. But also prove that you are worthy of being successful by making yourself significant." -Kareem Abdul-Jabbar


Marwa said...

I got to meet him and take a picture with him :-) His publicist/manager tried to shoo me away but he came around her and asked me if I'd like to take a picture together. That made his seeming 9-foot frame a little less intimidating.

faithsalutes said...