Uc Berkeley Holds Commencement For Graduating Students

Levincent Truong
July 16, 2007

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. More than 7,000 spectators turned out to watch the graduation, said Berkeley Chancellor Stephanie Martin.

It was the 117th class to graduate from Berkeley, marking its history. Among the graduating students were 67 Ph.D. candidates. Another 626 received master’s degrees. Students received degrees in field ranging from archaeology to zoology.

Novelist and essayist Anne Lamott gave the commencement address. Lamott urged the graduates to reformulate their ideas of success, using her triumphs and failures as an example. She said to worry less about making a fortune and more about making a life.

“ I bet I’m beginning to make your parents really nervous,” said Lamott. “Here I am sort of bragging about being a dropout, and unemployable, and secretly making a pitch for you to follow your creative dreams, when what they want is for you do to well in our field, make them look good, and also make a tiny fortune.”

Using a mechanical bunny as a symbol for success, Lamott was a greyhound that is always in pursuit of it. Pursuing goals are tiring; a balance must be attained while striving for success and happiness. She suggests people should take time off from being goal oriented and start finding things that make a real person, their spirits. People are sometimes marred of their true identities with the roles they play in life.

“ We can see spirit made visible in people being kind to each other, especially when it’s a really busy person, taking care of a needy person,” says Lamott. “ It’s magic to see spirit largely because it’s so rare. Mostly you see the masks and the holograms that the culture presents as real. You see how you’re doing in the world’s eyes, or your family’s, or – worst of all—yours.”

She uses herself to demonstrate how goals are not always achieved by the first shot; she calls it “ a deferred dream.” Dreams are not limited to a time period, but rather achieved over a period of trial and errors.

“ At some point I finally started getting published, and experiencing a meager knock-kneed standing in the literary world, and I started to get almost everything that you graduates are hoping for —- except for the money,” says Lamott.

If all advice was ignored, Lamott finished her speech with a request that the graduates eschew uncomfortable pants. Pants suggest the idea of a society’s constraints on a person’s political righteousness.

“ Promise me that you’ll never wear pants that bind or tug or hurt, pants that have an opinion about how much you’ve just 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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