Eight commencement speeches in eight lines

mark sullivan college of saint rose commencement 2012

Mark Sullivan sang during his St. Rose commencement speech. Twice.

We're just about finished with commencement season here in the Capital Region. Pomp. Circumstance. Advice.

Here are eight commencement speech in eight lines (or thereabout):

US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu [Troy Record]:

Before you know it, you will be 64, and no one can prepare you (for) how quickly your life will flash by. And so before (it does), do something you care about. Do something that matters. Your time and energy are the most valuable resources you will ever have.

Supreme Court of the United States justice Antonin Scalia [RPI News]:

Knowledge is not virtue. When you leave here, I assume you will continue to acquire knowledge ... but you also have to continue to acquire virtue

Albany Medical College
Dr. Gary Gottlieb, president and chief executive officer of Partners HealthCare, the largest health care provider in Massachusetts [Daily Gazette]:

As we transition to your leadership in our field, I beg of you to hold us accountable to pave the way for you to sustain real improvements in disparities of health and outcome and delivery that we must address this very minute ... It seems that for every area that we improve, it improves just a little bit less for an underrepresented minority. And some of our greatest achievements bypass some of those who need them the most.

Sage Colleges
Journalist and author Anna Quindlen at the Sage Colleges' commencement [Sage News]:

We understand ourselves retrospectively. So, retrospectively, I will tell you the most important thing I've learned these 60 years, and what I wish my younger self had understood. It is this: Do not be afraid. That's an old and honorable directive, found with some variation in both the old and the new testaments. That's because it is really the secret of life.

Biographer Ron Chernow [Saratogian]:

I dare say that most of you are sitting here with very precise and vivid fantasies of what you'd like your life to be. Perhaps you picture yourself as rich and famous, beautiful and accomplished, eminent and renowned ... Some of you will indeed have the very lives that you picture here today. But it's my sad task to tell you, and I hate to be the one to break the bad news, that for many, if not most of you, your lives will bear scant resemblance to the lavish daydreams you harbor today.

Journalist (she was with Sports Illustrated from the beginning) and horse breeder Virginia Kraft Payson [Siena Communications]:

Neither career, however, has been all glamour. Behind the scenes of both has been hard work, long hours -- no 9 to 5, and the deterimination to the do everything just a little bit better, and sometimes a little bit differently, than it had been done before. And behind the scenes also has been the unerring belief that began so many years ago when I looked out my bedroom window at that full moon, that no goal is beyond reach if you are willing to work for it.

(Her speech isn't filled with fireworks, but she basically explains to how to get ahead in almost any career. In her case specifically, it involved a shotgun.)

TV judge Judy Sheindlin at UAlbany's commencement [Fox23]:

Now the stakes are higher ... Nobody is going to excuse you because you're a kid. That first impression can alter the course of your life. Don't blow it.

St. Rose
Outgoing St. Rose president Mark Sullivan at the College of St. Rose commencement (that's him in the photo) [St. Rose News]:

Slow down, you move too fast. You've got to make the mornin' last. Just kickin' down the cobblestones. Lookin' for fun and feelin' groovy. ...
Nobody ever uses the term "groovy" anymore, except a few of us over 50 but I think you can understand what Simon and Garfinkel are saying.

(He also sang a selection from Wicked.)

Union College's commencement is June 10.

photo: College of St. Rose


I vote for Anna Quindlen and Ron Chernow.

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