Ask A Fifth-Year: Commencement

Jacob Horn

Dear Jacob,

If you were giving the commencement address, what would you say?

Signed, Snooping Senior

Ah, who am I kidding? You know these are made up names. I know they’re fake. But let’s continue on with the question. I might bust fewer jokes in this, my last column, but it’s only because I legitimately believe the message I’m about to convey.

We’re all idiots. All of us. The sooner you come to realize this, the better. If going to school has taught me anything, it’s that I don’t know shit.

Please don’t take this the wrong way. I’m sure you know a lot about the metabolism of anaerobic organisms or how markets are affected by the lack of perfect competition. But you don’t know everything. And that shouldn’t paralyze you, it should inspire you.

The fact that you don’t know everything doesn’t mean that you should simply give up on learning, overwhelmed by the abundance of knowledge. You should strive to achieve, gathering knowledge. The act of learning will be beneficial, making you willing to learn anything from a trade to how to avoid learning a trade.

Be inspired by everything around you, or as Lenny Bruce put it: “I am influenced by every second of my waking hour.” Take everything you can and internalize. You don’t know when you’ll need it in the future.

[Insert random story to lighten the mood that everyone will know] Hiett meth lab my freshman year! Man, that was wacky.

Now, back to the seriousness. You may get some flak for having a liberal arts degree — or maybe you won’t. Maybe all of your friends aren’t engineers and doctors and professionals at this point. If this is so, well, congratulations.

People may tell you that it’s inapplicable. They may tell you that you should have been spending time learning a trade instead. There’s nothing wrong with learning a trade (in fact, I encourage everyone to do that in addition to the liberal arts degree), but please remember the true benefit of your degree. You are adaptable. And that is the greatest trait you have.

The ambiguousness of the liberal arts degree is what sets it up as a force to be reckoned with. The fact that you’ve had to deal with subjects as diverse as microeconomics, geomorphology, and Spanish in the span of four years has trained you to be able to tackle whatever is thrown at you, no matter the subject.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with an applicable quote from a man that I hate. Truly despise. But it makes sense in this context.

“There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — there are things we do not know we don’t know.” As the crazy, senile old man is trying to say, strive for the unknown. Continue to learn. And never say stupid shit like Donald Rumsfeld.

If you have any questions that you’d like me to answer, too bad. I’m outta here, chumps. Seacrest out.