Jeanne Jackson | May 9, 2008
It’s a great pleasure to be here this morning, thank you Senior Class Council for the great honor of asking me to share this day with you!
It was 34 years ago that I sat on the lawn where you are …. Actually, I think …somewhere there in the back … we didn’t have cell phones then, so I couldn’t tell her which taped “hi mom” was me.
I left here 34 years ago to some more schooling and a career selling stuff. I’m a retailer, retailers sell stuff. I have sold a lot of khaki pants, Mickey Mouse ears and satin bras in my career… one key to being a good retailer is understanding your customers …
Having sold a pair of khakis, and maybe even a pair of mouse ears to more than one of you, I learned a little bit about your generation …
- You prefer flat front to pleated khakis
- You are a self-confident and optimistic bunch
- You are blunt and savvy
- You value education
- You want meaning in what you do and are committed to making an impact
I love your generation, you give all of us great hope that the world will be in caring and capable hands. As you leave here with that self-confidence, that optimism, that bluntness, valuing education, and committed to have an impact…, I just ask you to consider …
Self-confidence….use that self-confidence to be bold with your decisions.… whether you are a research scientist or a kindergarten teacher, be the very best research scientist or the best kindergarten teacher you can be …
With that self-confidence, be daring…cram as many experiences as you can into this life. I don’t know how many of you saw the movie “Bucket List?” Well, don’t wait until you are 90 with a year left to live …it is not enough time!
With that optimism…use that optimism to force the world to explore unimagined possibilities… the world you step into has a lot of problems, there are a lot of complex issues, without easy solutions. However, if you bring that optimism of yours to the negotiating table, to the courtroom, to the voting booth, then you can be change the world needs.
Next… that bluntness of yours … I blame text messaging for this one … my generation begins a conversation with “hello, how are you? How is your day going?” Your generation cuts right to it with a 3-letter text … s.u.p. “sup”
Yes, the bluntness… it may save time, but try to temper that bluntness with some good old fashioned human kindness. Be the person who smiles at others when you walk down the street, overtips the waitress and understands that someone who’s mean is likely coping with great distress.
One more thing on that “bluntness.” Trust me on this one … don’t ever put in writing anything you wouldn’t want printed on the front page of the New York Times, don’t push the send button on an angry email until you have had a chance to ‘sleep’ on it, and before you post that really funny you-tube video, imagine it being shown to prospective employers and your children!
By valuing education, I don’t mean those of you who decided 6 years was better than 4… nor is it your schooling, that we acknowledge today with your diploma. Your education is not complete, but just beginning. Abraham Lincoln once said “I don’t think much of a man who isn’t wiser today than he was yesterday” although Lincoln wasn’t a CU alum, the charge is there to become a life-long learner … take every opportunity to learn … a new language, a sport, a new culture … learn, reallylearn about China.
Next.. Your desire to give back. Pursue, with strong conviction, your belief in the power of giving back to the world around us. Companies like Mcdonalds and Nike have robust corporate philanthropy programs, partly because such programs are important to its young work force. But it is also the difference we can each make as individuals. I have a friend, who at age 60 went to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, and upon finding out that the children of his guides were falling asleep in school from hunger, established a foundation that today supplies over 2 million hot lunches. Don’t allow yourself to be discouraged if the results of your efforts are not immediate… be confident that your time, your empathy and your convictions are making a difference.
You want to make an impact, and we all want you to make an impact. Just remember that those on whom you will have the greatest impact will be those closest to you … your family, your future children, your friends and co-workers… Mark Twain said “let us live, so that when we die, even the undertaker will be sorry.”
So, class of 2008. Thanks again for the honor of sharing this day with you … congratulations graduates.