I doubt I will ever be asked to give a commencement speech, but if I did I would say something like this:
I was not a very good high school student. In fact, I was never a good college student either. No one should look to me as a model of how to excel in high school or college. I did not study much, and I was very lazy. In high school I did not take any math classes after I barely passed geometry. I have always claimed that side of my brain did not work well, but the truth is that I did not do well in math because I never saw the point. Of course, problem solving is an important skill to develop, but I chose not to do it at a young age.
I graduated near the top of my class at William Chrisman only because they did not have weighted classes. In college I took the most difficult classes on a pass-fail basism always striving to be the dumbest one to pass. Because of my poor math skills, it is doubtful that I could get accepted to UMKC today. So, as you enter the next phase of your life I will ask that you do as I say and not as I do.
Yet, there was a point when things changed. I had always wanted to be a lawyer. When I graduated from college in 1975 there were a lot of people smarter than me who wanted to go to law school. Because I excelled at laziness and mediocrity I was not prepared to do well on the Law School Admission Test. When I finally entered law school in 1977 it was only because I had spent two years getting a master’s degree in public administration where A grades were handed out like candy on Halloween. I discovered that I could continue in my laziness and still get a 3.9 grade point, which allowed me to get admitted to law school.
When I received the letter making me one of 165 students in the class of 1980, I was […]