Yesterday afternoon, SEAS students took their turn at being graduated. It was a great afternoon, if humid, with lots of energy and excitement. Class Prez Mary Byers stepped up to the mic to chants of “Ma-ry Ma-ry!” from her classmates. “We’ve had our minds blown time and time again,” she said with a smile. Engineering jokes abounded (“I’m still in SEAS, I didn’t learn English!” “We’ve built up so much positive potential energy.”) and laughs were had as Byers declared the class “the engineers of today.”
The class day speaker was Robert Bakish, SEAS’85 and MBA’89, CEO of Viacom Int’l Media Networks (sup MTV). Bakish was clearly pumped to be speaking, opening his speech by making the crowd shout “Columbia! Engineer!” To their credit, the crowd was more than game. Bakish clearly has a long-standing passion for Columbia. He explained that his father is also a SEAS alum and encouraged him to go here; the audience applauded when we heard Bakish’s father was among us. Bakish told his personal business life story and told the grads that every life is shaped differently, but it it worked out for him, “it will for you, too.” Finally, he had some advice: “Live, learn, and press on. Don’t forget to have a little fun.”
Valedictorian Joseph DelPreto spoke about the importance and strength of the SEAS community. He talked about going to Florida with his robotics design team and spending free time in Disney World, where he was inspired to build to make the world a better place. You have to make the choices to help more people. Dean Goldfarb (Goldean, though he took a new nickname with “the cicada dean”) followed this idea, saying that grads need to use imagination to create new innovations.
PrezBo gave his perfunctory “speak briefly but directly to you guys while I can before Commencement” speech, speaking to the importance of engineering and technological knowledge. Finally, he implored the grads to “please help the rest of us develop a Core course on engineering and technology.”