U C Berkeley Students Graduate

July 16, 2007
Marco Fernandez

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.

It was the 117th Berkeley commencement. Among the graduating students were 67 Ph.D. candidates. Another 626 received 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 pursue creative goals and to stop worrying about the expectations the world and their parents had put upon them.

“But the thing is that you don’t know if you’re going to live long enough to slow down, relax and have some fun, and discover the truth of your spiritual identity. You may not be destined to live a long life; you may not have sixty more years to discover and claim your own deepest truth,” Lamott said. She emphasized her point by repeating a quote from Breaker Morant: “ you have to live every day as if it’s your last, because one of these days, you’re bound to be right.” Through these words, she urged the graduates not to delay life in favor of their conformist obligations.

She supported the concepts she expressed by referring to her past. Lamott jokingly told the audience about how she failed to graduate from college thirty years earlier. Then, she went on to explain the undesired jobs she held after she left school. Eventually, Lamott became an accomplished author as her work started getting published. While entertaining the audience with her self-deprecating tone, her speech hinted that she supported the notion that the students must be patient in order to achieve success. Her background provided an example of someone who is “going to taste it and enjoy it,” when referring to life. Lamott engaged listeners to “live in the now.”

“Lamott concluded on a lighter note by telling the graduates to not give into trivialities. “Refuse to wear uncomfortable pants,” Lamott said. “Even if they make you look really thin.”

“There is way too much lying and scolding and going on politically right now without your pants getting in the way too,” said Lamott.

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