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I’m giving a commencement speech at my alma mater in London on July 14th.

I don’t think my husband can make it, but Jennifer McClure will join me. And I have enough friends in London that one of them will surely record the speech. I promise to share the video once it’s live. I can’t wait to watch myself say awkward things to a bunch of graduates who are bummed that my college couldn’t score a bigger blogger.

(Sorry, kids, but The Bloggess isn’t an alum of Regent’s University. I’ll do my best to be brief, but I’m compelled to spend at least ten minutes telling you how to live your lives. Welcome to adulthood.)

I have no idea how to give a commencement speech, but there are plenty of inspirational speeches on Facebook. Unfortunately, I took Facebook off my phone during the month of June. So I asked a bunch of friends to tell me where to find the best commencement addresses.

My friend, Ita Olsen, likes this speech by Jim Carrey. Tim Sackett referred me to the always popular Wear Sunscreen speech by Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune. And other friends sent me multiple links to Michelle Obama and Steven Spielberg, which were good to watch and read.

I also went back and watched President Obama give the commencement address at Kalamazoo Central High School, which is particularly moving to watch given the fact that we’re nearing the end of his presidency. Boy, he was so young. We really ruined that guy, didn’t we?

Obama talks about personal responsibility, which is boring and safe, but he gives a lot of love to the parents and students in the room. I’m definitely copying that move.

I’m still writing my speech, but I know this much: it’s not in my DNA to be emotionally heavy-handed and deliberately inspirational. At best, I hope to honor the graduates by saying something helpful. At worst, I hope they remember that they had a commencement speaker and she wasn’t terrible.

If I land somewhere in the middle, the day is a success.

Most importantly, I hope to convey that it’s an absolute privilege to share someone’s graduation day. I’m happy to have been asked. It’s been twenty years since I attended Regent’s University London, and it was one of the happiest times of my life.

I’m excited to meet the class of 2016 and hear their stories. Wish me luck!

17 Responses to I’m Giving a Commencement Speech
  1. akabruno

    Keep it to 18 minutes or less

    • ruettimann

      I’m shooting for ten minutes.

      • mfaulkner43

        The grads will thank you for that.

      • akabruno

        Even better. St. Norbert’s commencement speaker did it in 12 minutes this year. The worst I’ve seen was Jesse Jackson…75 minutes

        • ruettimann

          DePaul University circa 2001? I was there for my s-i-l’s commencement.

  2. J.

    I think you should talk about the fact that none of them actually know what they will be doing in 20 or even 10 years, that despite the overly specific degrees they are receiving, their lives will likely lead them in very unexpected directions.

    Also, while it’s fine to acknowledge parents and family for their support, please don’t be like many speakers who seem to think the parent are more responsible for the degree than is the student.

    • ruettimann

      My two key points:

      1. Fuck the police.
      2. Capitalism is a lie.

      No? No?

      • mfaulkner43

        Those work. And #3 – it’s okay to love cheese.

  3. sarah

    While you and I have Webster in common, you and my brother have Regent’s in common. His time there changed his life because he met someone named Mat DiNapoli, a fearless man who spent his childhood overcoming the numerous surgeries and complications from his Crohn’s Disease. He lived a life filled with action, daring, joy, and love. Whenever I think about Regent’s, I think about Mat, the impact he had on the lives he touched (including mine), and the lives he changed. He lived his life — for real lived it, — through some pretty harrowing conditions. I hope the graduates you’ll be addressing have a little bit of his spirit to overcome obstacles and live their best lives without compromise.

    • ruettimann

      That’s a lovely tribute. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Joyce Pugh

    Congrats LFR! You do so many cool hangs, but I think this is probably the coolest. Enjoy he experience!

    BTW – I think The Blogess might make their little heads explode!

    • ruettimann

      Thank you. She makes my head explode. I’m such a fan!

  5. Jennifer Caraballo

    I’m so excited for you! What an amazing honor to be asked! I know that you will be a fantastic speaker! Can’t wait to see it!

  6. Margaux G

    Good luck! I loved this one by David Foster Wallace. 🙂 www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfw2Qf1VfJo