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Speaking of the Best Graduation Speakers

May 17, 2000

As a 2000 university graduate, it is offensive to me that colleges and universities find it necessary to book a fabulously famous or well-known speaker who will impart his or her great knowledge to me. ("Is There a Speaker in the House?" May 8)

Actors, politicians, government officials and business leaders are not the embodiments of success that inspire me. Great deeds and contributors to the betterment of society inspire me. We live in a world where there is the potential and the need to do incredible good. Let's seek and honor those individuals who make the world a better place.



Senior, California

Polytechnic University, Pomona


The reason for the commencement-time malady is that universities emphasize celebrity rather than good speaking. Having written many speeches for executives and an elected official, I can attest that more than 90% of the time, these celebrities/officials have no idea what they want to say!

If a school wants to ensure that it will have a good commencement speaker, it should publicize an open competition in its community and have a committee review speeches and hear the presenters ahead of time. The competition should be open to anyone. Celebrity, power, wealth should not be required; indeed, it should be discouraged.

A university will be surprised by what this egalitarian process will produce. Students will learn that some of the best thoughts on life can come from the most unsung and humble souls living directly around them--a valuable and memorable lesson for graduates commencing their journeys in life.


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