Class of 2014, it’s the beginning of your last semester at your beloved Boston College, whether or not you care to acknowledge it. The time has come to start thinking about the commencement ceremonies in the spring. One aspect to get pumped for, rather than crying about, is the possibility of having an intriguing and theoretically hilarious - coughAmyPoehlercough - commencement speaker address the class this year.
Over the past four years, I have seen a slew of speakers from fields including politics, business and journalism. We haven’t witnessed a comedian nor a woman give the address recently, however, coughAmyPoehlercough. Regardless, it doesn’t matter what field the speaker hails from as long as he or she can write well and has a sense of humor. More importantly, we want someone who can turn an average speech into a great speech. Let’s look at the best quotes from the most recent BC commencement addresses and assess what could be a great addition to this year’s speech.
Jeff Immelt: CEO of GE and 2010 Commencement Speaker
Mentions Amy Poehler, and I suppose more importantly, makes fun of himself: “In a weird sort of way, Amy Poehler, a famous BC alum, works for me. Amy, one of my favorite SNL actors, now stars in Parks and Recreation, a show on NBC, which GE owns. When I asked her what to say to BC graduates, she said, “Tell them I don’t work for GE!”
Uses quotes from alumni since he didn’t matriculate from BC: “There are 270 BC alumni who work at GE. Several weeks ago, I created a blog to ask them what advice they would give you. After all, they are navigating this crazy world, and they share your BC tradition.”
Ray LaHood: Secretary of Transportation and 2011 Commencement Speaker
Sets up a non-cliché theme that winds through his speech: “But from your days at this singular American institution, you must remember this: 'Let each of you regard one another as more important than yourself.'”
Creates a memorable, jaw-dropping moment to be talked about long after the speech: “I saw a wonderful blog by one of your talented classmates, Allison Lantero. Is Allison here? Allison, congratulations. I can appreciate what you wrote - and, for those of you who haven’t seen it, let me quote: (continues to quote blog entry denouncing choice of LaHood as speaker).”
Bob Woodruff: Television journalist and 2012 Commencement Speaker
Shares a truly inspiring life story and what he gained from it: “I was critically injured by a roadside bomb while covering the war in Iraq. I lost many things in that injury, but on balance I’d have to say that I gained many more.”
Enda Kenny: Irish Prime Minister and 2013 Commencement Speaker
Puts his speech in perspective: “It’s 57 years since the then Senator for Massachusetts John Fitzgerald Kennedy came here to ‘the Jesuit Ivy’ reminded an earlier generation of Boston College graduates of the value of politics, the challenge of public service. It was 13 June 1956. In the Middle East the last British soldiers were leaving Suez.”
Acknowledges the parents in a time when they’re mourning the loss of innocence of their babies: “But above all, it’s a day to be thankful for your parents, your step-parents, those who have been as good-as-parents, and your grandparents.”
Boston College has had some remarkable men speak here in the last several years. Awe-inspiring stories have been told and poignant advice has been shared with the graduates. All the great qualities considered, what have these addresses lacked? They were all delivered by men and were on the more serious side. The next dignitary should be a woman equipped with the ability to make the audience crack up and relate to the graduates by sharing some BC stories of her own. I wonder who could hit every one of those marks. One more hint: she just won a Golden Globe and is at the top of her game this year. A perfect candidate for commencement speaker is alumna Amy Poehler. Let’s get the Poehler bandwagon rolling again this year!