Better East Texas: Commencement speakers get fired up for gradua - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Better East Texas: Commencement speakers get fired up for graduations

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It is graduation season, and high school and college seniors are preparing for the ultimate ceremony of sitting through an event where classmate’s names are read and proud supporters give shout outs and, of course, there is a commencement speaker.

Commencement speakers can be energizing and they can be dreadful – it is one or the other – but should commencement speakers be all-appealing? Recently, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pulled out of a planned commencement speech to the graduating seniors at Rutgers University after a group of students and teachers protested. Likewise, First Lady Michelle Obama changed her plans on speaking to a group of high school seniors in Kansas, after protestors complained about limited seating but it was obvious, they did not want her there.

So what should we expect from commencement speakers? Some type of homogenized, neutral, unengaging, dull presenter or someone who challenges inspires and perhaps even agitates graduates to act? I believe it is the latter. We need graduates that are on fire to take on the world and start a career or pursue further schooling, not a generation of passive sponges.

Now that is not meant to be a blanket statement and it is obvious that graduates need much more than a strong commencement speaker to get them engaged in life, but they do need every possible catalyst available. So Secretary Rice’s and the First Lady’s change of plans are cheating the kids. We need inspired youth now, more than ever, and it will make for a Better East Texas.

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