Students, faculty, family, friends:
I am grateful to have a chance to address you on this special day. It is also, indeed, a good time to reflect on the guideposts for success we may need as we step into the wider world outside CNG.
Those guideposts, or lessons, are all around us. Take a quick survey of popular culture, and you’ll find that those catchy, omnipresent commercial slogans, if properly interpreted, actually do offer decent advice for life in a nutshell. Let me prove it with some examples.
Vodafone’s slogan, for instance, tells us to “make the most of now.” Every moment over the last few years has been spent anticipating the next. But we have forgotten how to live the present, a present that tonight is one of happiness and celebration. Make the most of now.
Coca Cola’s slogan tells us that, “The only thing like Coca-Cola is Coca-Cola itself.” Today, we will leave this auditorium with one thing that nobody else has. There will be millions of people out there with a high school diploma, millions of people trying to make a living. But each one of us will be the only one with total control over our own life. The only person like me is myself. I am speaking to the artist, the loner, the quiet one, the minority, the outcast, the rebel and the intellectual; do what you know, do what you love, be you no matter how “average” you think you are, because there is a world beyond this field and that world is reality—reality welcomes all types of individuals.
Energizer’s adorable bunny “keeps going and going and going.” At times, we have all felt like we want to give up. But in the midst of an impossible day, a stressful moment or a sad defeat, we must remember that the best never stop. The best persevere.
AT&T’s legendary slogan: “Reach out and touch someone,” suggests that life is about the effect we have on people; about leaving this place a little better than it was before our existence, whether it be by saving a life or simply putting a smile on someone’s face.
Apple’s slogan, “Think outside the box,” pushes us to innovate and to topple barriers. If we want something to change, we have to defy status quo. We will always be criticized by others, but we cannot allow ourselves to be boxed in by other people’s judgments or limitations.
Someone once said that, “Life is five percent what happens to us and 95 percent how we deal with it.” Fellow graduates, we must remember these words as we journey through life. Go out and be happy. Regardless of what you do, strive to be the best and happiest teacher, mechanic, doctor, actress, businessman, rock star, whatever you want to be. And when faced with those inevitable setbacks, make sure that 95% lifts you back up.
I leave you with one last thought, made famous by Nike, which I hope will be your trampoline to a rewarding and exciting life: “Just do it!”