New graduates think that they are finished with tests and classrooms. They are partly right but it misses the point. In a couple of months, at our next alumni event, I will hear many of the new graduates say something like: “My new job is great. My boss is helpful. My co-workers are fun to be with, but they know so much. I have so much to learn and so little time to learn it.”
This comment reinforces what the university president and the recipient of the honorary doctorate David Card said at our graduation ceremony: independent of the various techniques and the fancy vocabulary which students pick up during their time here, university graduates are adaptable and have learned how to learn. They do not merely follow instructions. The best graduates change the world around them.
Dr. Card grew up in the Guelph area and, as he noted in his address, his early experiences influenced the rest of his life. When preparing his address, he thought about the many forgettable graduation speeches given by others that he has heard and noted that challenge. His research focuses on choices; that is what he is being recognized for. His advice was to choose in a Canadian way.
The simple answer to most choices is that there are costs and benefits to be balanced. That will always be true. Still, you can be polite; you can say “sorry” when somebody else steps on your toe. You can be helpful; there are lots of ways to help other which take little time or effort. You can welcome diversity; the reality is that not everybody is the same.
New graduates will bump into puzzling situations and they will be expected to make choices in that situation. While they may not always find the “right” balance between costs and benefits on their first try, choosing in the Canadian way has an advantage since most activities are collaborative.
Congratulations to our new graduates. One set of tests is finished. We wish you well for the next set. We look forward to hearing of your great successes and the other events in your lives.