Several weeks ago I was nominated–and then auditioned–to speak at the commencement ceremony for graduating graduate students from Brown. Though I was not selected to be the speaker (I have some conspiracy theories on that front, I assure you!) I would like to share the text of the speech that I wrote, because I believe it captures the essence of how I feel about leaving the confines of the university and entering the ‘real world.’
New Opportunities in A Global Century of Innovation
At first glance it would seem that now is an inopportune time to leave the grounds of the university and venture out into the world. After all, between rising unemployment, a financial system in disarray, and a whole host of other local, regional and global problems ranging from urban blight to climate change, it would seem that the prospects for putting our newly minted skills to work as teachers, researchers, entrepreneurs and employees of firms large and small are, to put it bluntly, dim. Yet we are also entering a world rife with unprecedented opportunities for those willing and able to take advantage of them. An explosion of innovation in information technology has made it easier for more people to collaborate to tackle poverty, to create new products and services, and to share thoughts, ideas and experiences. The cost of renewable energy is falling. Social entrepreneurs are creating self-sufficient businesses that solve social and environmental problems. The list is seemingly endless, and I believe that regardless of our particular field of study, as graduates of one of the finest universities in the nation, we are in a unique position to seek out these opportunities and apply our intellectual and financial capital toward them.