Adopted from the Wharton Class of 2016 Graduation Speech.
Good morning Dean Garrett, Deputy Dean Gibbons, Vice Dean Rosenkopf, faculty, staff, distinguished alumni of all reunion years, family, friends, and classmates.
First of all, congratulations fellow graduates… Today, I will try to communicate just a few words of encouragement as we move on to a new stage in our lives.
The Council of Economic Advisors to the President of the United States issued a report which describes some of the overarching trends of our generation as millennials. It shares that we are now the largest, most diverse generation in the U.S. population; that we have been shaped by technology; and that we tend to get married later that previous generations.
But this is just one of thousands of reports about us. Many of you have probably heard some of the negative characteristics of our generation: that we have the attention span of 5-year olds, that we want immediate gratification, and that we do not know how to socialize but through social media. Some of this is true…
This morning, however, I want to share what I think are the characteristics that actually shape us and set us apart as a generation. I will do so by comparing us… to a Snapchat story. Yes, you heard it right. So that everyone understands, a Snapchat story is a digital space where you capture live micro-videos and photos and share them with your network of friends through a mobile application. And yes, this app is a reflection of the essence of our generation. Classmates, imagine that our lives are like a Snapchat story:
Number One: just like Snapchat stories are 10 seconds long, we understand that we do not have unlimited time to get things done. We want to change things immediately; we acknowledge that for change to come we have to start now. We no longer wait 10 or 20 years to reach decision-making positions, instead we are proactive and get involved. We see it in all the hundreds of academic and extracurricular accomplishments of the graduates right here today. For the past four years, Wharton has fueled this passion for action into our lives, this drive to stand for what we believe in. Even if that meant kicking people out of the GSRs at the hour…
Number Two: we navigate through friends’ Snapchat stories all the time. Just like that, we jump into each other’s existence and incorporate different perspectives about everything that is happening around us. By valuing diversity, we rely on collaboration and teams because we believe we cannot do everything on our own. The result of many group projects, presentations, and teamwork efforts at Wharton taught us how to generate value by working together. Those all-nighters spent in Huntsman Hall were not in vain…
And Number Three: just like we are confident enough to post a Snapchat story, we have the hubris to believe we can impact the people around us. We are a generation that’s inspired to improve our surroundings and to question the paradigm. Wharton helped us grow from the enthusiastic but timid freshmen we were four years ago. Today, after having experienced some failures and disappointments – and no, I do not only mean after failing the BEPP 250 midterm – we learned how to welcome feedback and move forward to reach our best potential. Failure makes us better because we learn from such experiences. Wharton taught us resilience and helped us grow into the well-rounded human beings we are today.
So, dear classmates, as we go into the world imagine we could hold on to our Snapchat stories for 5, 25 or 50 years from this day. Every single one of us should strive to be proud of what we have accomplished for ourselves and for the betterment of the world. As we think about what we want to achieve, I invite you to reflect upon Ariana Huffington’s definition of the third measure of success: "a third measure of success that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and consists of four pillars: wellbeing, wisdom, wonder, and giving." But do not forget how blessed we have been and that what ignites true happiness is giving back.
Before ending, I want to thank those who have shaped our stories, our own Team Snapchat: our families and friends, who are our biggest supporters, for being with us throughout this journey. In the same way, I would like to thank professors, staff, and everyone for their invaluable support to our education and wellbeing. We couldn’t have gotten this far without you. And more on a personal note, I would also like to thank Puerto Rico for making me the person who I am today… I can’t wait to see you shine again.
Whether you go to Wall St. or the street across your house, whether you say finance or “fiiinance,” whether you are black, white, Hispanic, Asian, it doesn’t matter. We’re millennials and with it comes the recognition that we are different. Different for the good. My friends, class of 2016, congratulations.