Academic Ceremonies - December Celebration

Melanie Brown Remarks

Remarks: Melanie Brown, President
Graduate Student Senate

Good morning!

On behalf of the Graduate Student Senate, I want to congratulate you on your accomplishments.  I would especially like to welcome all of your friends and family who have traveled here to share in your many successes.
I hope you all heard this week about the octopus in Indonesia who was seen moving and rearranging coconut shells as shelter.  This little invertebrate, Amphioctopus marginatus, has learned how to manipulate objects for personal gain.  Scientists have long suspected that octopi were among the more intelligent invertebrates, and this one demonstrated why.

As a student myself, I don’t necessarily possess the requisite gravitas for dispensing wisdom, but I can urge you to remain life-long learners.  This octopus is a life-long learner and has now become a YouTube sensation.  You’ve worked so hard to reach this point in your life.   You might want to take a mental vacation after a hectic semester.  But that vacation shouldn’t last forever.  Being a life-long learner can be as easy as flipping channels.  Instead of spending time Keeping Up with the Kardashians or at the Jersey Shore, spend time with the Mythbusters.   Stay informed.  Articles on The Onion are even funnier when you know the proper context.  Are you a fan of Top Chef or So You Think You Can Dance?   Take a cooking or dance class and turn your reality show obsession into a fun new hobby!

You also should continue to cultivate a sense of awe.  I encourage you to marvel at an octopus scooting along the ocean floor hugging a coconut shell.  Tomorrow’s innovations will be the result of you marveling at something and letting your imagination run.  You can only make these observations if you keep your mind open to them.  Also, keep your dreams and goals in sight, but stay flexible.  You never know when a new path might present itself. 
It’s tradition to send graduates off with a quote, so always remember that a wise Liverpudlian philosopher once said, “I’d like to be under the sea in an octopus’s garden in the shade”


You can view the octopus with the coconut shells at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DoWdHOtlrk

Last modified January 17 2010 05:13 PM

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