The following is the full text of my 2014 Commencement speech to the graduates of the University of Iowa (Twitter: @uiowa) College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Twitter: @UIowaCLAS) at the 1:00pm ceremony on May 17, 2014 in Carver Hawkeye Arena.
Here is just my speech:
Here is the full commencement ceremony:
All 10,000 Statues of Herky scattered throughout Iowa City
Families, Friends, Alumni,
and most importantly,
I am honored to have been invited to give the faculty address, but I only have a few minutes to speak. And since most faculty speeches say the same thing, that is, “Congratulations”, “We’re proud of you”, “Good luck”, etc., I thought I’d use my time instead to give you something a bit more memorable.
Not only is this graduation ceremony being streamed live, but because my speech has to be so short, and because I’m also a professor working in the digital humanities, I’m going to be live tweeting my speech as I speak.
And I’ll be using the hashtag #UIGrad2014.
And I’m going to start with some pictures, but I need your help. I need you to take some pictures with me. And then you can tweet your photos using the hashtag #UIGrad2014 while the other students’ names are being read.
And you can re-tweet this speech and my photos available at my Twitter account: Robert Cargill, which is @XKV8R, that’s at X-K-V-8-R, as well.
So listen to the speeches, and then re-tweet during the reading of the names. Got It?
OK. Let’s start out with the ultimate “Class of 2014” graduation picture. Parents and friends up in the stands, you can play along too. We’ll all take pictures together.
Ready? What’s that? No, I will not take a picture with your camera.
OK, ready? Please, please…do not flash the graduation speaker.
OK, ready? One, two, three.
OK. Now here’s a picture you can’t get. Here’s a picture of the platform party.
#UIGrad2014Platform Party #NotAnACTUALParty
OK, and now for the speech.
Greetings University of Iowa “Class of 2014”. # Greatest Iowa Graduating Class EVER!
Congratulations! You guys did it! # Some Of You After 5 Years
Soon, you will be University of Iowa graduates and will either enter the workforce, or graduate school. # Either Way You Will Be Underpaid
And what’s even better, you will soon be receiving phone calls from the Alumni Association. # Send Money
Your time at the University of Iowa has been and will forever be remembered as one of the greatest periods of your life
when life was fun! # In Relatively Good Shape # Relatively Thin # Weren’t Bald
[Takes off cap and bows.]
I speak from experience.
In fact, you will soon catch yourselves saying thing like,
“College life was so good“.
“Iowa was awesome.” # Often While Sitting At Your Desk At Work # Or Changing Diapers # Of Twins (True story!)
But I want to give you a quick heads up about what to expect from this day forward.
Because you will also remember your time at the University of Iowa as one of the most transformative periods in your life.
And you will quickly learn that these changes do not stop once you graduate. They actually come faster. # And Become More Expensive
Just ask the people sitting up here.
But your personal transformation as a Hawkeye doesn’t end today.
In fact, in many ways, life as a Hawkeye really begins today.
And for some of you, that life will be spectacular.
You will have tremendous success, you will be happy, and will make lots of money. # The Alumni Association will Definitely Be Calling You.
And be proud! The University of Iowa has prepared you for that success.
But for some of you, life will be very difficult. You will face challenges.
You will lose jobs. Relationships will be strained. Money will be tight.
But believe it or not, the University of Iowa has prepared you for this as well.
Because we the faculty, and your college experience at Iowa didn’t just teach you about math and science,
and most importantly, classics and archaeology # Shameless Plug
But your University of Iowa college experience has prepared you to think on your feet, embrace life,
and yes, deal with disappointments, and deadlines, and challenges.
And this is when you must, you must, learn to rely on each other, your University of Iowa network
because from this day on, you are all Hawkeye Alumni. AND HAWKEYES ALWAYS, ALWAYS STICK TOGETHER! # And Are Very Nice About It
And part of being a member of the University of Iowa family means looking out for one another and helping each other out wherever life takes you.
Because you will meet Iowa alumni everywhere you go.
I remember the day I was hired to teach here at Iowa.
I was still living in California, and I had bought a University of Iowa sweatshirt when I had interviewed here for the job.
So the day I was hired, I put on my sweatshirt, and, I kid you not, I went hiking out in Yosemite National Park, at 7000 feet,
and was proudly wearing my new Iowa sweatshirt, when some random hiker passes me and yells, “GO HAWKS!”
And I didn’t KNOW the proper response yet! I had just been hired and I didn’t KNOW to say, “GO HAWKS”, back in response, or “ON IOWA”!
So…I hesitated, and was caught off guard and said something like, “Uh…Soarin’ High”.
I didn’t know whether I was supposed to screech like a hawk # Makes Poorly Executed Sound of Hawk
I had no clue! I didn’t know what to say, # Not What A Hawk Actually Sounds Like
but I’ll be damned if there wasn’t an Iowa Hawkeye alum hiking at 7000 feet in the middle of Yosemite National Park screaming “GO HAWKS!”
By the way, # Cargill Did NOT Just Tell Iowa Graduating Class Of 2014 To “SOAR HIGH”. I just want to get that cleared up.
But now I know what it means to be a Hawkeye.
And I also know that your degree from the University of Iowa will prove to be one of the best investments you will have ever made.
In fact, you will never spend money that pays off as much as the money you spent going to the University of Iowa.
Actually, let me say that again: For some, YOUR PARENTS will never spend money that pays off as much,
as the money THEY spent putting YOU through the University of Iowa. # Some For five Years
So be proud! You ARE the University of Iowa.
And if you can handle six-month winters covered in snow, # The Planet Hoth, then you can handle anything!
So take it from a highly educated man wearing a beret and a blue dress. # Fashion PhDiva
Do me three favors today:
First, say thank you to your parents or grandparents or whomever put your through college.
In fact, give them a hand right now. # See Mom, I Love You. Please Send More Money
Second, find a faculty member after the ceremony and say, “Thank you.” Maybe send them an email. # Or Endow Their Chair
And finally, find a student you don’t know, or never really talked to, and say, “Hi”, and give them a hug. # Guys, This Is Your Last Chance. # I’m Trying To Help.
Because you never know when that fellow Hawkeye graduate is going to bail you out. # Of Prison
So…graduates of the University of Iowa Class of 2014,
on behalf of the faculty of the University of Iowa, # Professional Nerds, CONGRATULATIONS on your graduation!
We are very proud of your accomplishment,
because not long ago, we too were graduating just like you. # Except We Are Not Moving Back Into Your Parents’ Basement For The Summer
And you are always welcome to come back to campus and visit us. # Preferably Sometime BEFORE You Ask Us For A Letter Of Recommendation
To Leah DeGrazia and Andrew Deloucas, and to all my students graduating today, I love you. Congratulations and good luck!
Thank you all again. Be safe and have fun tonight! #GO HAWKS
Some other pictures I took from the platform:
And a member of the audience captured the second half of the speech. Thank you!
I also want to acknowledge my inspiration behind this speech by thanking Ellen DeGeneres for her Oscar antics that inspired the Twitter pics of the graduates, to Stephen Colbert‘s “The Wørd” segments and Kevin Nealon‘s SNL “Mr. Subliminal” sketches for inspiring the idea behind the hashtag punchlines, and to Conan O’Brien for making graduation speeches fun. And many thanks to Cale Staley for his work behind the scenes. Thanks to all of you!
Filed under: congratulations, digital humanities, robert cargill, University of Iowa Tagged: | Andrew Deloucas, Class of 2014, commencement, conan o'brien, Dean Chaden Djalali, Ellen DeGeneres, Fashion PhDiva, Go Hawks!, graduation, Hannah Walsh, hashtag, Herky on Parade, iowa nice, Katie Lazzara, Leah DeGrazia, On Iowa!, social media, speech, stephen colbert, twitter, UI Grad14, UIGrad14, UIGrad2014, Vice President Tom Rocklin, Yosemite National Park