Text of Speech by Dr. Robert Cargill to Madera South High School Graduating Class of 2015

MADERA SOUTH HIGH SCHOOL STALLIONS
COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS – JUNE 4, 2015
DR. ROBERT R. CARGILL, UNIVERSITY OF IOWA

Good evening.

I want to thank Mr. Lile for the invitation to speak to you this evening.

It is indeed good to be home. And I know that I’m home because my name is Robert, and yet ever since I’ve been back in Madera, everyone keeps calling me “Bobby”. On TV, I’m Robert. When I write books, I’m Robert. In the classroom, I’m Dr. Cargill. But in Madera, I’m Bobby. And it makes me smile, because it’s good to be home.

And please allow me to be among the first to congratulate the 2015 graduating class of Madera South High School, the best high school in Madera.

Now, Mr. Lile has informed me that you are not permitted to use your cellphones to text or take pictures during the ceremony. But, since no such rule was given to me, I’d like to take and text some pictures for you. What do you say we take one cool-looking graduation photo?

I’ll post this picture on my Twitter, which is @XKV8R, that’s X-K-V-8-R, later this evening, and you can re-tweet or save it from there. Got it?

OK, now remember, this picture is going to live forever, so don’t do anything that some prospective employer is going to question, OK?

OK, here we go. 1, 2, 3. #MaderaSouth2015

Dr. Robert Cargill snaps photos of the 2015 graduating class of Madera South High School. PHOTO BY JACK PORTER/BIG VALLEY NEWS (More: http://www.bigvalleynews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7367) Dr. Robert Cargill snaps photos of the 2015 graduating class of Madera South High School. PHOTO BY JACK PORTER/BIG VALLEY NEWS (More: http://www.bigvalleynews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7367)

Tonight is a special night—a night for celebration. I even wore my favorite blue dress.

You’ve worked hard for many years, and you’ve earned this diploma, and so tonight we celebrate and honor your achievement.

Now, it is at this point in a graduation speech where the speaker traditionally bestows upon you pieces of advice that are supposed to make your lives a bit more successful. But I’m not going to tell you to “be all that you can be”, or “reach for the stars”, or to “think outside the box”, or to “wear sunscreen”, because you’ve heard all this before.

What I will tell you is what I’ve learned as a fellow Maderan, who has been “out there”.

I’ve learned that you should be nice to older people, especially your grandparents, and not just because they put money in your birthday cards.

Be generous with both your time and money.

Be on time. Showing up is half the battle, and showing up on time is another third.

And be nice. Be kind. I’ve traveled all over the world, and you simply cannot realize how much being generous, being kind, and being on time pays off in life.

And I’ve also learned that you should never, ever forget where you came from.

Never forget Madera!

Listen to me. I was exactly like you 24 years ago. I grew up in Madera, and like most other people I knew, all I wanted to do was get out of Madera. And not just to Fresno. I mean I wanted way out.

But I have learned that this feeling is not unique to Madera. It is the same feeling that every 17- and 18-year old feels in every city, in every state in the country, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York—everywhere!

You’re young, you’re full of hope and potential, and you’re ready to launch out from here and see the world. And that’s good. But never confuse a sense of adventure with a rejection of your hometown.

This place is a special place. And before too long, you will find yourself wanting to return to your home, to your family, to your friends, and to DiCicco’s.

Even those of you who swore that you would never come back to Madera will do exactly that, and this is a good thing!

You will use the education and experiences you gained working and traveling elsewhere, and will return to make this city—the City of Madera—a better place.

Because this city was made what it is today by those who have given their lives to make Madera a better place.

Take, for instance, your principal, Mr. Lile. Now, I went to high school with Mr. Lile, and, let me dispel a rumor you might have heard: back then, he had great hair!

And Mr. Lile and I graduated and went on to see the world. But here’s how much Mr. Lile loves this city: after giving his time and energy learning and practicing the craft of education as far away as Honduras and Dubai, he then returned to Madera to give his time and energy and life to serving you, and to serving the City of Madera, to make this place a little better than it was when he was a kid.

And this has been my experience with so many Maderans who contributed to my growth and education. This is what Bill and Pat Schawrtz did for me, and my first baseball coach, Ken Turner, and my Jefferson Junior High teachers Gary Espenship and Jeannie Lakeman all did for me. And when I was younger, it’s what my John Adams Elementary School teachers, Connie Barsotti and Jan Duke, did for me. I remember them both fondly and I miss them both very much.

And wherever I go, whether I’m writing a book, or appearing on the History Channel, or doing archaeology in Israel, or lecturing at the University of Iowa, it is all a result of the education that was begun here, and of the values that were instilled in me here, in Madera.

Like you, I am a Maderan. This is my hometown. I grew up in a house at 2305 Howard Road, across from Lions Town & Country Park. I played football on this field. I played baseball on that field, Mel Parker Field.

And I’m telling you all this for this reason: I am 42 years old, and I haven’t achieved anything that you can’t also achieve.

I am simply you, 24 years from now.

I’m that Madera kid who played little league on Field One for the Lions, who got Big Gulps at the 7-Eleven on Howard, before it was a Starbucks, who went to the Madera Fair, who got sugar cookies at Perlongo’s Bakery, and who had birthday parties at Madera Valley Bowl in Parkwood.

My great-grandparents and my grandfather, Ray Cargill, who served in the United States Army Air Corps during World War 2, are all buried at Jay Chapel. And both my parents, Len Cargill, and Sharon Costáles, spent their careers contributing to making Madera a better place.

I have been fortunate to experience tremendous successes, and to meet fascinating people, and I have experienced tremendous failures in life. And it was my Madera family and my Madera values that helped me through it all!

I, too, am a Maderan.

And if I can do it—a kid who grew up just down the street—then you too can have successes in your jobs, in your businesses, in athletics, and in your relationships.

So ask yourself: what will you be? What will you become?

Because being from Madera is an asset, not a liability.

Like many of you, I too was intimidated by other kids who were from big cities, who graduated from much bigger, and many times, private high schools. I went to public schools, Fresno City College, Fresno State, and UCLA. And many of the people I was competing with for admissions into colleges and graduate schools, for scholarships, and later for jobs were from wealthy families, who attended private prep schools, and then went to Harvard and Yale and Princeton and Dartmouth. And like you, I know that it’s an uphill climb competing against people who have had many advantages in life.

But let me tell you what I’ve found. I found that when I was applying for admission into a program, or for a job, the interviewing committee notices that some people are advantaged over others. And they can see when someone has had the best of everything, while others have had to work their tails off every day to overcome the fact that their families weren’t wealthy, or they weren’t from big cities. They recognize that you had to work hard. They recognize that you may have experienced the death of a parent at a young age, or have disabilities, or served your country in the military, or had to raise kids.

And they not only recognize it, but they soon realize that it is often the candidates from the small towns, the blue-collar kids, who have already proved that they can work hard and have what it takes to succeed in college, in jobs, and in life, who are often the better candidates.

You must continue to work hard. I’m a tenure track professor at a Big Ten research university, The University of Iowa, and I regularly admit that I’m not the smartest person at the university. I’m not even the smartest person in my department. But I make absolutely sure that no one will ever, ever outwork me.

Now, I’m also not going to say, “You can be anything you want to be,” because to be honest, it’s not true. Some of you cannot and will not be certain things, just like I cannot, and will not ever dunk a basketball.

But while you can’t “be anything you want to be”, you can be many things that you might think are out of your reach right now. Just because you didn’t do well in math doesn’t mean that you won’t get the hang of it two years from now, and become an engineer. Just because you didn’t have a lot of friends in high school doesn’t mean that you won’t have many, good, real friends in college. Just because you didn’t go on a lot of dates in high school doesn’t mean you won’t find a wonderful partner and live a happy life. And just because you use a wheelchair to get around doesn’t mean you can’t be voted Prom King! Where is Lucio Garcia anyway?

So while you can’t do anything, you should still dream big, set lofty, but attainable, incremental goals, and continue to prepare yourself for success.

Because you live in a magic time in history, and in a place where many, many things are possible. And what you can’t see at this moment is that a series of events is about to unfold in each of your lives, and a number of opportunities are about to present themselves to you. And while you have no way of knowing what they will be, or when they will occur, what you can do is put yourselves in the best possible position to be ready for when those opportunities arise.

You have already taken the first step; you have completed the necessary requirements to graduate from Madera South High School, and if I might add, the best high school in Madera!

But graduation from Madera South is not the end of your journey as a Stallion, it is just the beginning, because like me, you will take what you have learned here in Madera, along with the friends and relationships you have made, and you will work even harder to make your goals a reality, beginning today.

Well…maybe tomorrow, because tonight—tonight, we celebrate!

So be proud that you grew up in Madera. And be proud that you are a graduate of Madera South High School. Never forget the work you had to do to make it this far, and use this taste of success you experience tonight as incentive and motivation for your next great adventure.

Congratulations to all of you!

Have fun and be safe tonight!

Full Text of Prof. Robert Cargill’s 2014 University of Iowa Graduation Speech (AKA “The Hashtag Speech”)

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:

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Vice President Rocklin,

Dean Djalali,

Members of the Platform Party,

All 10,000 Statues of Herky scattered throughout Iowa City

Families, Friends, Alumni,

and most importantly,

graduates of the University of Iowa Class of 2014.

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.

#UIGrad2014

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.

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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

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Some other pictures I took from the platform:

Tassel turning ceremony

Pic with University of Iowa Board of Regents student representative Hannah Walsh

And a member of the audience captured the second half of the speech. Thank you!

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For more images and tweets from the 2014 University of Iowa commencement ceremony, visit the hashtags #UIGrad2014 and #UIGrad14.

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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!

 

 

steve jobs: live before you die

Here’s Steve Jobs offering the 2005 Stanford University commencement address.

He speaks of the importance of arts and the humanities, pursuing your dream, loving what you do, love, loss, and death.

conan o’brien’s excellent 2011 dartmouth commencement speech

Conan O’Brien really is an excellent speaker. He has proven this much with his most recent Dartmouth Commencement address. Beyond all the laughter, when Conan speaks seriously, it is sincere and incredibly meaningful.

I loved the line: “It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It’s not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound re-invention.”

HT: Roger Nam

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