Saturday, February 12, 2011

Follow your passion....

I like listening to Commencement Speeches. A Commencement Speech is an address given to graduating students in some of the universities in USA by an eminent personality. As expected the speeches would be full of passion and vigor, packed with advice and distilled wisdom.

A friend recounted one such speech given by Charles Bolden Jr., NASA administrator at the California Institute of Technology in 2010 and so I watched it. Charles Bolden exhorted the students of Cal Tech to follow their passion and make life better for someone else. He talked about how President Kennedy challenged NASA to send men to moon and bring them safely back to earth and how that challenge energised NASA. And then he went on to share with the graduating students what President Obama spoke some months back at the Kennedy Space Centre:
" But here’s what President Obama
asked us: Was that historic Apollo 11 mission the end of something, or the
beginning? Are we the heirs of Neil and Buzz and inheritors of their spirit of
exploration, innovation, and risk taking, or do we lack the courage, the
wisdom, and the vision to continue their journey? The answer to these
questions lie not with my generation but with yours. For your generation
will be the one that will either turn away from great challenges, or will follow
in the footsteps of your fore parents."
How motivating....words capable of inspiring a student who is already raring to go. I just can't help thinking about our Universities and our students. We have no dearth of talent; our students are on a par with the best of students in the world. But are we motivating them enough? Are we giving them the best of environment to grow and prosper? How then can we blame them and complain of brain drain?
Charles Bolden talked further about three Core Values - Honor, Courage and Commitment.
But the story he ended his speech with was most inspiring - the story of Nkosi Johnson of South Africa, who died of AIDS when he was 12 years old. He made a powerful impact inspite of his short life. His words:
“Do all you can
With what you have
In the time that you have
In the place that you are”

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