This is exactly how big of a geek I am. This was my keynote speech I gave a Lavender Graduation.

See how many of the references you can find!

42. Good evening Lavender Graduates, family, friends, students and community members. When I was asked to give the speech today, I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. I didn’t know if I should be deep and philosophical, and say something like how in the dark, souls can be forged into diamonds. Or if I should try to make a deep impact or talk of serenity. I didn’t know if I should be imparting some sort of advice on how to deal with the academic world and how to approach real world dungeons and dragon through them.

But I figured I should start with my experience here at UWM. When I first came to Milwaukee, I didn’t fit in. I was caught between the portal of undergrad and grad, of California-native and Milwaukeean. I had to tetris myself into this new world. There were times I wish I had Gone Home, just drop out within my first year. I felt that I had taken the mass effect of my time here at UWM within the first few weeks. I was cold, I was hungry. I was Lost. Odyssey was done better by Odysseus and not by someone who can’t discern north. I just wanted to start a Second Life. But what would be the fallout of that? Dropping out would have been a far cry from the hyper academic that I was when I was back west. I didn’t know what happened. I would stay up Until Dawn wracked with anxiety. I started to become a Vampire. The Masquerade of Being Human and trying to function as a potential Doctor Who wasn’t a mess.

Then it happened. I found Community. There was Magic. The Gathering of like minds brought about something Supernatural. I found my Guild. Wars can’t be fought alone. I found my Companions, my justice league, my x-men—When I found that I couldn’t face the world alone, I just thought, “You may have an army, but we—I mean, I have a Hulk…or a Jen Murray and Cary Costello.” It didn’t happen randomly, I had to look at it like a game. Do I hold my cards close or play my Cards Against Humanity and put myself out there? I decided to answer the Call of Duty and join the communities I needed rather than hole up in a wall. There’s no“Cheat Code” to this. To find the supportive community that holds each other up, you have to be a part of the supportive community. Hold each other up. And not just those who you think can help you. Hold each other up because you’re a good freakin’ person. I found the community that supported me during my angsting over my dissertation, found the community that listened to me complain about students, and all the other drama of grad life because I was able to be there to listen to others do the same. When looking for the support, you have to put yourself out there. Because the truth is out there. Your personal truth is out there, if you go looking for it.

For some of you, the journey ends here as you enter the world post-academia. For some of you, it’s just beginning. So I leave you with this–I said I had to look at grad school—even life as a game. I had to find my own personal triforce: of wisdom, to know when to ask for help. Of courage, of asking for help, and of Power, by getting help and support from those around me. When you bring those three things together, you can be open up godmode and do great things—save the kingdom, slay the dragon or if it’s more your speed to ride the dragon and burn the kingdom to the ground.

Before I go, I want to leave you all with this quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald. “For What it’s Worth, it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find that you are not, I hope you have the strength to start over.”

This quote helped me grow here at UWM and it helped me find that with community I have strength. With this strength, I can do anything, I can do anything like survive a dissertation. I can do anything like sneak in 42 Geek references into a 5 minute keynote speech (Pause) For good measure, Star Wars, Wonder Woman, Galaga, Pathfinder, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Xena: warrior Princess, Skyrim, and Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Congratulations Class of 2016. Press Start and Game On.

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