Good afternoon! On behalf of my fellow Board members, it is my absolute pleasure to be addressing you the California Connections Academy graduating class of 2016. This is your moment - the culmination of your hard work - your mastery of challenging subjects and personal growth. A time to celebrate your many accomplishments and those yet to come.
To echo our president…."When I come to places like this, it inspires me and reminds me of why I am chronically optimistic about the future of America."
I am truly inspired by you young adults - in fact, your whole generation inspires me - you are the Millennials - the limitless generation - a generation of unparalleled talent and drive, the largest most diverse generation in the US population, and most importantly, a generation shaped by technology - and your choice to pursue your education in a technologically driven environment personifies that generation.
Individually and collaboratively you are 21st century learners who successfully utilized technology to effectively navigate through your virtual school. With that accomplishment, also comes a future responsibility to embrace and also respect and understand this "gift" of technology that you and your whole generation have inherited. You must all think of yourselves as technologists, because you all are.
Now I am hardly a technologist. Yet I find myself living in an increasingly technologically mediated society. No one can afford to allow technology to simply exist and I ask that you insert yourself in the process, wherever you can - law, politics, business, these are all touched by technology. Only through the perspective of all of you combined can we guide the possibilities opened up by human ingenuity toward a positive outcome. As Arthur C Clarke said, "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Our world increasingly runs on immensely complex technologies, many that are starting to seem like magic. But do not be fooled. There is no magic; technology is a reflection of the desires and biases of the individuals and systems that built it. As you move into higher education, careers or the military, you must inject yourself into the discussion about how technology is developed and deployed in society.
The world you are growing up in is one of transition. Just as I saw in my life, you will see new technologies open new problems and new opportunities. The technologies of the 21st century are presenting civilization with new possibilities at a global scale. Digital computers are not the first "technology" and they are not the last. Now ideas flow and ripple through globally networked humanity at a pace that was previously unimaginable. Now our technologies have the potential to mesh the world together in ways never before envisioned, at a pace never before experienced.
The future is heading for us at an accelerating rate. The Internet is the bow-wave of 21st century innovation. Your time is characterized by free-flowing ideas conglomerating with each other in novel new forms, rapidly accelerating toward an exponential pace. We are in a period of transition and this is the time that you all are growing up in, the challenges are profound, but so are the opportunities - challenges equal opportunities. We have the technology within our grasp to create a more just, abundant and sustainable world for more people than ever before, but technology is just a tool; harnessing opportunities takes creativity and fortitude on the part of you, the leaders of the future.
You are considered to be the most educated of generations, but education alone will not serve you. It will be your fluidity of thought, your creativity, your ideas that will propel you and society. Ideas are increasingly our most precious commodity - but ideas alone will not be sufficient; you must be able to execute those ideas. This will require you to be more nimble, independent and entrepreneurial than past generations - all of which I know you can and will possess
These commencement words were gratefully encouraged and inspired by my own millennial - who not so long ago was like you awaiting for your life's next steps to begin….so I leave you with the following - his wish for you….
We cannot predict the future, we can only explore possible futures and work to make features of the desirable ones happen and avoid the undesirable ones.
Staying mindful of current injustices is immensely important; keep watch on the world with keen eyes that feed into an open mind. Listen to the perspective of others. Learn from history lest you repeat the mistakes of your parents and your parents' parents and before. Study all that you see, take nothing for granted.
Yet try to keep your heart pure, and your passion alive. Try not to let the world harden you to the dream of a brighter tomorrow; even though the world will make that a constant challenge.
I believe that optimism and pessimism are self-fulfilling prophecies and you the 2016 graduating class have the choice to pick the better prophecy.
Congratulations - I know you will continue to be a source of pride and inspiration to us all.