FM Imagines: Deval Patrick's Commencement Speech

The subject of this year’s speech is unknown to the public, and the suspense is killing us. In the meantime, we drew up a few ideas of our own.

From Michael Bloomberg to Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates to Al Gore ’69, past Harvard Commencement speakers have left quite the shoes to fill. This year, on May 28, former Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick ’78 will stand up to the challenge. In the past, Patrick has remarked about social media, generational differences, and citizenship. The subject of this year’s speech is unknown to the public, and the suspense is killing us. In the meantime, we drew up a few ideas of our own.

Dwelling in Post Graduation Blues

Most of us will probably be sad to graduate. All in all, Harvard is a great experience. If you’ve done it right, you’ve lost it in the stacks, written some mediocre papers, and built up your alcohol tolerance. Now all that is over, and it’s time to say goodbye. But there’s nothing wrong with getting a little nostalgic in a graduation speech. Why not relive our time at Harvard through the words of our speaker?

Celebrating Things Left Behind

On the other hand, Commencement is a time to celebrate. Now that you’re Harvard graduates and bound for Wall Street, HUDS food, communal bathrooms, and final exams are a thing of the past. It might be nice if Patrick reminded us of all the reasons Harvard isn’t so great—think a monologue on problem sets, bomb threats, and snow storms. That way we won’t be sad when we get those diplomas.

The Practical Speech

In some ways, graduation is intimidating. You have to update your resumes, find a pet to keep you company, and operate not on Harvard time. Imagine cleaning your own toilet and making your own food. There’s no Dorm Crew in the real world, guys. How will you manage? FM knows how. Patrick should teach us everything we’ll need to know in his speech. The former governor can do his taxes (at least, he sure knows how to spend ours), so why shouldn’t he let us in on the secret during Commencement? That way, we can all redecorate.

The Meta Speech

Graduation. What does it mean to graduate? What does it mean to leave college? What is the meaning of college? What is the meaning of meaning? You’ve all heard this one before. It’s the meta speech. Distant relatives and family members will be impressed. They might not know what the heck is going on, but at least it will sound deep.

The Cliché-Ridden Speech

Clichés are comforting. What better way to make a crowd breathe a collective sigh (of relief) than to begin a speech with a Merriam-Webster definition? Seriously, though, how could parents not be at ease after hearing their children are “the future?” These are tried and true phrases—oldies, but goodies. But you go this route, Patrick, then be careful. “Follow your dreams” could easily become an excuse for Uncle John to take a nap.

The Fish Route (a lá David Foster Wallace)

If Patrick is looking to avoid overused sayings and any sort of feel-good moments, this is the method he’s been looking for. Feeling a bit moody and broody, he’ll let you know that the “veritas” you find in the real world is harsh. Your life won’t be a walk in the park—it’ll be a walk to the Quad. Constantly. Everyday. With no shuttles. Ever. You will learn that the world is a drunk, eager freshman and you are its John Harvard statue. But best of luck in life, Class of 2015!

The Cool, Relatable Speech

This works if Patrick wants you to know that he is hip and with it. Expect several references to the “ChatSnap” and be prepared to receive them with smiles. He might even wear black and blue to the ceremony hoping to elicit a white and gold response. Beyond that, he’ll keep every sentence 140-characters or less. We know that our generation doesn’t have the greatest attention span.