Good afternoon family, friends, esteemed faculty and fellow graduates of the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, otherwise known as “Students Who Did Not Get Into SOM.”
In a short matter of time, each and every one of us seniors will be handed a diploma signifying four years of academic achievement. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term “diploma” because it is a very thorough text, its sole purpose being to provide definitions of English words.
To me, a diploma is no more than a piece of paper that says, “Hello, I represent Jason Blackman. As of May 20, 2012, Jason Blackman knows slightly more about James Joyce than he did four years ago, and now you should be compelled to treat him with more respect than a person of a lesser degree or, heaven forbid, no degree at all. Gasp.”
That’s not to say that I don’t value the classes I’ve taken or the professors who have taught me. I don’t discard the things I’ve read in textbooks as useless, and I certainly don’t think knowledge is a waste of time.
However, my real education wasn’t received in a classroom, in the library or during office hours. No. I’ve learned life’s most valuable lessons on the court.
Of life. The Court of Life. Not a basketball court. Actually, a very small percentage of my life has been spent on basketball courts. In fact, the majority of time I actually have spent on basketball courts was more for a smooth, controlled surface on which to scooter than anything else.
What I’m trying to say is the most memorable things that have happened to me while enrolled at Binghamton University cannot be reduced to a letter grade or a cumulative GPA. The things I’ve learned most about myself cannot be described in a research paper about somebody else’s achievements.
And to my professors, if I’ve had an “unexcused absence” in your class, you can officially excuse me, for I guarantee I was present somewhere else and more likely than not, I was having a lot of fun.
Now, to some, my words may seem like no more than a liberal objection to scholarly pursuits. To that, I say no. If research and memorization is your passion, then I urge you to act on it, every single day, for the rest of your life.
If it’s not, then figure out what you want to do and do it. Your 20s are not the time to let financial stability take precedence over passion. If you’ve always wanted to be a singer, then sing. If you’ve always wanted to become a chef, then cook. If you’ve always dreamed of traveling the world, then get on a fucking plane and go somewhere.
To my parents, please excuse me for the risks I will take and the mistakes I am sure to make. You’ve taught me well, and I’ll be all right. To my friends, I thank you for every second we’ve spent together and I’ll see you at the first wedding.
To my sexual partners, past, present and future, I’ve been tested and I’m clean. So, yeah.
Earlier I said that my college experience could not be represented by a solitary letter. Let me amend. I am the only person who can grade myself, and with careful thought and consideration, I get a B+. College was amazing, but if I ever reach perfection, it’s all downhill from there.
Thank you, Binghamton University Class of 2012, and congratulations. Now go do some living.