My Convertible Life

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Commencing with the Commencements

In honor of graduation season (and because I can't seem to carve out time to write much these days), I'm pulling a post out of the archive today -- this is the speech I shared with classmates at our J-school graduation eight years ago. Apologies to any of you who heard it the first time -- feel free to skip this post and wait for the next one.

Hi – my name is C... and I am a super geek.

I have spent about 25 of my 29 years in school, either as a student or a teacher. But I think the past two years that I have spent in the master’s program in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication have pushed me over the limit.

I can no longer watch the evening news without critiquing the quality of the content or the wardrobe and mannerisms of the news anchors. Should that meteorologist really be wearing a brown shirt with a navy blue suit?

I cannot read the newspaper without grumbling about widows and orphans left dangling alone in columns of text, misspelled words leaping out of cutlines, and statistics that simply don’t add up. I comment as much on the layout of feature stories as I do on the content of the material.

I am a supergeek.

I am incapable of looking at business cards or letterhead without wondering who designed the company’s logo and why they chose to use Times New Roman instead of a nice, clean sans serif font. I find myself analyzing the design of annual reports, worrying more about whether they used color in sidebars than whether Arthur Andersen was the auditor.

I feel compelled to ask business owners if they have a crisis communication plan and whether they know their three key messages and can communicate their brand in a single, easy-to-remember phrase. I can spot a video news release in about two seconds.

I am a supergeek.

If you’re laughing, then my sympathies go out to you – because you, too, are a super geek. You may not be ready to admit it in front of the world, but trust me – you’re a super geek too. And admitting that you are a super geek is the first step.

But I believe there is hope for us all. As we leave the fantasy world that is Chapel Hill and go out to jobs, internships, more schooling or plans yet unknown, we can actually use our super-geekness to our advantage. For those of you staying in academia – as graduate students or professors – you will be permanently surrounded by fellow super geeks and will find yourself basking in the glow of geekdom. For those of you leaving the ivory tower for industry, you may have to learn to hide your geekier qualities, but the knowledge will certainly come in handy. Our years at Carolina have trained us well. We will be good at the careers we choose. And we will always remember this place, these people, these years with warm hearts and happy smiles.

So before I say farewell to my life in Carroll Hall, I’d like to thank all of you – my friends and family and classmates and teachers – for helping me along the way. I would particularly like to thank the Park Foundation for their generous fellowship program, my parents for always believing in me and for trusting my decisions, even when they didn’t seem financially sound, and my wonderful husband, whose presence single-handedly made this whole graduate school experience worthwhile.

Photo from UNC Virtual Tour

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