Declined Commencement Address
The Southern Oregon University Provost's Office asked me to prepare an address for the 2016 commencement. The request was rescinded after I read the following draft aloud to the commencement committee.
Congratulations Southern Oregon University class of 2016
I want to fill you with hope,
I want to tell you everything is going to be puppies and apple pie from here on out
But I can’t
I saw an interview with a financial advisor last fall
She was recommending that new college graduates increase their retirement savings from 6% to 10%.
The benefit of this small increase, is the possibility of retiring five years sooner,
at the age of 70, instead of 75.
70 or 75?
I didn’t believe what I was hearing,
The life expectancy of a US citizen born in the mid 90’s is 76 years.
It seems ridiculous that today’s college graduates can expect to spend 50 years in the work force.
So, I ran the numbers, and it turns out that the financial advisor was very optimistic.
It’s much harder to achieve retirement in areas with a higher cost of living, like the west coast.
The uncomfortable truth is that we will all probably work until we die.
That’s a bit of a downer, I know.
let me re-frame it.
There’s freedom in knowing the truth.
You don’t have to endure a droll career,
taking solace in a remote future filled with European river boat cruises and bus trips to casinos.
Retirement isn’t an option.
So don’t waste this opportunity,
don’t let the pressure of finding your way force you in to a career you dislike.
work with people you enjoy,
doing something that matters to you.
It won’t be easy.
It may seem impossible at times,
but you have the skills.
You’ve overcome countless challenges getting here
Use your education to build a life of your choosing.
Make it beautiful,
like puppies, kittens, rainbows and apple pie.