Pomp and Circumstance


Graduation season is in full swing which means for the Classes of 2017 taking that first step into the future is just one commencement speech away. Students are now looking to see if that last internship is going to turn into a full time job. Some are taking gap years while others are looking forward to grad school. And the lucky ones have already secured that dream job.

As we all remember, graduating can be pretty scary, whether it seems like all your peers have their post-grad lives figured out or no one really knows what they want to be when they grow up. Visits to guidance counselors become frequent as do those meetings with career mentors because a good piece of advice can go a long way. As the new graduates enter the next chapters of their lives, we here at VM want to send them off with some select quotes from this year’s noted commencement speakers. We hope our Weekend readers, enjoy these pearls of wisdom even though your school days are in the rearview mirror.

“In this day and age, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that it's the people who serve humanity, that make our world go around. Most media and certainly social media would lead you to believe otherwise.”
—Pharrell Williams at New York University

“Some things in life are true no matter what career you choose. I wish I had understood these things better when I left school. For one thing, intelligence is not quite as important as I thought it was, and it takes many different forms. In the early days of Microsoft, I believed that if you could write great code, you could also manage people well or run a marketing team or take on any other task. I was wrong about that. I had to learn to recognize and appreciate people’s different talents. The sooner you can do this, if you don’t already, the richer your life will be.”
—Bill Gates in a post on LinkedIn

“To those of you graduates sitting out there who have a pretty good idea of what you’d like to do with your life, congratulations. For many of you who maybe don’t have it all figured out, it’s okay. That’s the same chair that I sat in. Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result. Trust your gut, keep throwing darts at the dartboard. Don’t listen to the critics and you will figure it out.”
—Will Ferrell at the University of Southern California

“Three suggestions you have to have in order to succeed in optometry. First, continuing education, second, be a member of your state and national associations, and third, be active in your community, especially the political part of the state legislature. Compare these three suggestions to a stool with three legs. What happens if you have such a stool and one of the legs is missing? It’s worthless, it’s clutter and it just takes up space and serves no useful purpose.”
—Terry Swinger, OD, at the University of Missouri St. Louis College of Optometry

“There's always something else that hasn't been found yet. Help people as much as you can because it's no fun if you know a lot of stuff and they don't know anything. So tell them. Help them out. And go as many places as you can to help as many persons as you can.”
—Katherine Johnson at Hampton University

“Your generation can bring people together like no other. You can innovate, create and lead. Your generation will transform our economy and create millions of new jobs. You will develop cleaner energy. You will make it so racism only exists in history books. Yes, you will. You will be the generation that teaches the world that we are at our best when we recognize, respect and celebrate our diversity.”
—Howard Schultz at the Arizona State University

“Become the best listener in the world … Listen to the zeitgeist of the moment. Create a conversation for yourself. Get together with people who want to share your vision, bond with them emotionally, complement their strengths with your strengths. There is nothing that can’t be accomplished when we share vision together, bond emotionally and complement each other’s strengths.”
—Deepak Chopra at the University of Southern California

“Optometry is a service-oriented profession and your college gives you a role model for instilling empathy. So no matter how far from this school you find yourself in the coming year, if you are unsure what service or avenue you want to pursue, just consult the staff or board of SCO. They represent a treasure trove of service and can be a great source of contacts and information for you to align your service possibilities.”
—Diane Rudner, Board Chair of the Plough Foundation, at the Southern College of Optometry

“When I look out, all I can see is a direct reflection of the vision your founders and our ancestors worked so hard for. May we continue to honor our past and the foundation so many before us have laid. It’s our responsibility to sustain the future now. It’s us who must continue to use our unique super powers to shape the world. On this day graduates, I celebrate you as you remember the power of grace and pride, and I challenge you to choose freedom over fear.”
—Janelle Monae at Dillard University

“Graduates, you are the light of the room. Shine so this universe will become better because you exist. Let your light shine the pathways and the highways of all you meet. Plant seeds of greatness in their minds, hearts and souls. Don’t be just a light that lights up the room—carry it down the hallway. Light the world so much that your impact and your influence can be felt for a long time.”
—Wolf Blitzer at High Point University

“You don’t have to do something huge. You don’t have to wait for someone to tell you exactly what they need. And you do not have to be someone’s best friend from the first grade to show up. If you are there for your friends, and let them be there for you—if you laugh together until your sides ache, if you hold each other as you cry, and maybe even bring them a burger with the wrong toppings before they ask—that won’t just make you more resilient, it will help you lead a deeper and more meaningful life.”
—Sheryl Sandberg at Virginia Tech

"This honorary degree speaks to more than my efforts to make the SIGHT documentary project a reality. The guidance from our Advisory Board Members, especially Dr. David Fleishman the Board Chair, every eyecare professional that lent insight to specific aspect of human vision and every interviewee who told their story to our cameras are honored today. Sir Issac Newton summed up this honor best in his letter to Robert Hooke in 1672 with a reference of Bernard of Chartres: ‘If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’ The giants honored today are all those that shared their knowledge which allowed me to create the story of SIGHT. On a personal note, I’m receiving this degree not for myself, but for my late partner in everything, Anita Ingrao. Her vision may have been myopic but she had the foresight and passion to drive this project."
—Kris Koenig at the New England College of Optometry

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
Mark Twain


“You will be tested to violate your ethical oath and to violate your own common center. As such, because of the knowledge you have developed, people will expect you to sell your services. But I hope you nor anyone else, will expect you to sell your soul. It is your integrity and like a mirror, once shattered it is almost impossible to restore.”
—George Hanbury II, president, Nova Southeastern University