Berkeley Students Graduate At 117th Commencement

July 16 2007
Duceani Dávila

More than 1,700 students graduated from the University of California, Berkeley today. The ceremony was held at the Greek theater on the Berkeley campus. At least 7,000 spectators turned out to watch the event, said Berkeley Chancellor Stephanie Martin.

Among the graduating students at Berkeley’s 117th commencement were 67 Ph.D. candidates and 626 students earning master’s degrees. Students received degrees in fields ranging from archeology to zoology.

Novelist and essayist Anne Lamott gave the commencement address. Lamott encouraged students to follow their creative dreams, shun their parent’s expectations and be sure of who they are.

“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued,” Lamott said, “Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”

Speaking with energy and wit, Lamott started her speech with a summary of her life, beginning with her decision to drop out of college and ending with where she stands today. Lamott said that she was honored to be the speaker of the event and then turned to speak about the struggles the graduates will face in the future.

Through out her speech, Lamott quoted several known people like J.D Rockefeller and “Stripes” actor Bill Murray. She also gave examples of how to be a better person by sharing food and trying to help the homeless in the time of need. As well as other examples like Charlie Brown and Lucy playing with a football that helped set up the example of struggle.

“You’ve graduated. You have nothing left to prove, and besides, it’s a fool’s game.” Said Lamott, “If you agree to play, you’ve already lost.”

She encouraged the graduates to do as many things as possible like writing, singing, resting and eating cherries now that they were through their journey at Berkeley.

Towards the end of the speech Lamott talked about refusing to cooperate with anyone that just wants to bring him or her back down where they started. She also gave encouragement to read, listen to music, to space out and sleep as well as slowing down and better yet to lie down.

Lastly, Lamott told the listeners that even if they did not get anything from her speech she requested to at least remember her most important piece of advice.

“Promise me you’ll never wear pants that bind or tug or hurt, pants that have an opinion about how much you’ve eaten,” she said. “The pants may be lying! There is way too much lying and scolding and going on politically right now without your pants getting in on the act, too.”

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