As General de Gaulle occasionally acknowledges America to be the daughter of Europe, so I am pleased to come to Yale, the daughter of Harvard.
It might be said now that I have the best of both worlds, a Harvard education and a Yale degree.
His theme was the prevalence of fuzzy thinking and the desire for choices rather than fresh thought.
He touched on the theme repeatedly, with examples ranging from a lunch date with his sister, to a spelling bee, to a job interview, throwing in an allusion to Plato (for the faculty) and ending up with the point that thinking is painful hard work.
Tempting as it may be to tell the graduates that they are about to enter the “Real World” (where you have thrived), you should avoid that.
Savvy students will see you as out of touch, since many of them have been working all along and are often managing any number of real life issues. (It’s the they are worried about.) And don’t tell them they are going to die. Steve Jobs could get away with talking about death at Stanford in 2005 (“And yet death is the destination we all share”), but he had cheated death at the time.
And remember that your audience can’t rewind your speech or mark it with a yellow highlighter, so be sure to illustrate your easily-recognizable theme with smaller, easily-digestable examples.
Neil de Grasse Tyson did this in his 2012 speech at Western New England University.
There are honor students—summa, magna, and cum laude–as well as those who are still sweating out a few grades.
You are also speaking to families and to the university faculty.