I’m Gonna Convocate!

Sorry for not keeping things too frequently updated, but it’s been hard to stay indoors with all the sun finally pouring down on Montana. We’ve had steady rain and cold temps for the past month, so now that the sun is out, I’ve been trying to avoid the pale glow of my laptop as much as possible.

But while I’ve been avoiding online activities, I’ve been sweating bullets over a speech I need to give this fall to all of the incoming Freshman at Montana State University. See, Double Take was selected as required summer reading for all of the new students arriving at MSU this year, and to cap off the assignment, I need to deliver the big convocation address at the beginning of the semester. Normally, I’m not too afraid of getting up onstage to talk, but this time it’s different. Not only will I be standing in front of thousands of students reasonably close to my age, but I’ll be doing it with all of the pomp-and-circumstance that goes along with a college event of that size. So, in a tidy list – here are my worries*:

1.) The Wisdom – While I have had some pretty incredible experiences in the past few years, I’m not sure if I’ve reached the point of being totally sure of my ability to actually impart wisdom. I’ve only been out of college for two years, which has been just long enough to realize how little I actually know about Adultland.  So while I may be able to talk about traveling the world or skateboarding the Great Wall of China, I’m still reduced to confused child when it comes to doing my taxes, looking at property, or any other of the myriad Adult-ish things that seem to hit you in the face post-college.

2.) The Pomp – Having seen these events before, I’m fairly certain that I’m going to need to wear one of those fancy black robes. I’ve never been a fan of clothes longer than my own torso, but a 5-foot-long robe could really cause some logistical difficulties on stage. I’ve asked the director of the event about possibly tailoring my robe into a cape (which, let’s face it, would be much cooler), but thusfar have yet to receive an answer…

3.) The Circumstance – When the time finally comes to be standing onstage in front of all these people, there is going to be somewhat of a juggling act. Behind me will be the main powers of MSU – from the president to the provost and all sorts in between. In front of me will be a gym full of kids that have yet to even experience college. There is probably something less cliche’d than using “a rock and a hard place”, but it does feel fairly apt in terms of having to try and keep both groups on point.

So – to those reading – is there anything I need to be worried about? For those freshman who may be looking at this blog – is there anything you would like to hear? Also – if anyone out there has the power to make this happen – I totally want a cape.

*Carmen, Greg, or anyone else reading this blog who is also helping to set up the event – don’t let this post get you sweating too much. It’s more tongue-in-cheek than you think. Or is it….


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  • Mike

    Trust me…they do not want to know about adult stuff.They need to see the world thru your eyes in the different perspective you use…that will make them better adults.

  • Vicki

    The Wisdom – while reading Double Take I was completely taken by your story, your writing, and your spirit, it was at the end of the book that I was surprised, moved–“impressed” doesn't come close to describe it–by two things. One, your maturity and sensitivity, evidenced by you really feeling to heart how the world didn't stop turning when you left home, how it's not just your show. Two, your ability to give your heart in love. More power to you, Kevin. Did that come from your travels, expanding your horizons, or your uniqueness, or both? I'm sure those freshmen will be discovering many things about the world and themselves as they face class schedules, first dates, etc. You're perfectly qualified for the convocation address (IMHO), no worries.

    The Pomp – I really hope you get to wear a cape. 🙂

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1389477792 Matt Golosinski

    Hi Kevin, Your concerns are perfectly understandable, but I would encourage you not to “overthink” things and get too nervous. Speak from the heart, speak from your experience, share your perspective, expand their horizons. I would say that the less you build it all up the better. And by deliberately seeking this elusive quality called “wisdom,” the harder it becomes to discover it. From what I've read, including in your book, you've got the perspective and spirit that many of us really should have and desperately need. It's LIVED. It's IN YOU. I would guess that you don't need to worry much about ADDING some special ingredient to the mix just for this occasion–even though, yes, this is a special event.

    I'm sure you'll do great, and the audience will benefit enormously. Best of luck! Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Lissa

    No worries. I am a transfer student to MSU, just finished reading Double Take and had difficulty putting it down. Based upon how much I enjoyed the read, Im looking forward to the address. Your youthful wisdom and expierence is intriguing and inspiring. Most important- you have to wear the cape!

  • Carlos

    Hello Kevin,

    My name is Carlos, I am a 16 year old sophomore from Concord, Massachusetts. I have just finished your book Double Take, and I must say I enjoyed reading this book, because I was born just like you with no legs. My personal experience so far has some similarities with yours, I share with you the same out look on life as it is being a person “with a disability”. Just like you I once had prosthetics, and like you I HATED them. I now use a wheelchair and I love using it. I did try a skateboard but just for fun, and it was a cool experience. My true passion is basketball, and I thought to myself, “Gee, why didnt Kevin try basketball?” If you ever are around in Massachusetts I would love to meet you so we can see the world from the same point of view.

  • Queen of the Nursing Voice

    Having attended all the previous convocations, the best, by far, was Greg Mortenson. I don't remember what he said exactly, but I do remember that he focused on the message those incoming students needed to hear. He spoke of when he failed and what he learned from those experiences were part of what he's become. The are truly failures unless nothing is learned. The courage to keep going in hard times, that is what those students need to hear. This is their first time away from home. They may not know what they want a college degree for, never mind what to do with it. What can keep them going with their studies when they are struggling? Is it the end of the world if they fail a class? What did you gain from your education at MSU that has helped you in the short time since your own graduation? How did this community help you in unexpected ways? Focus on inspiring these kids, and you'll do great! I look forward to hearing it as I'll be there again!! Enjoyed the book. Thanks.

  • http://www.imascatterbrain.blogspot.com/ imascatterbrain

    But Michael, you have a fantastic cape, don't you see it?

    http://www.imascatterbrain.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.allpractice.blogspot.com Jonie Adams

    I agree with Matt.

    I am a yoga instructor and before class I often feel the weight of some responsibility for the people I teach. My guru husband often says that what I need is already in me, even though I don't see it. He also reminds me that it is our duty to give but remained unattached to the outcome of our gift. When we worry, it is a sign that we are losing sight of our purpose and our ego is beginning to mess around in our pool of wisdom….

    Just be you! You are enough. And be sure to have a camera under your black cape so you can snap a shot of their faces when you come riding in on your scateboard donned in black cape.

  • Jonie Adams

    Ooops – That would be “skateboard” not “scateboard”….

  • Marilyn

    Just now listening to your BBC interview and had to peek in here. Here's my 2 cents … Somehow encourage those younguns' to take time to GET QUIET; IDENTIFY THEIR FEARS and encourage them to set the intention to walk hand in hand with those fears. I believe our fears are so influential and are at the root of most of the ways we hurt each other and the earth. Encourage them to swirl themselves in love and compassion as they walk with those fears. Maybe their ultimate goal during their university days would be to come to lovingly trust themselves. I'll look for your book. Thank you for sharing your journey through your words and photos. (I'm on vacation in Denver (from Minnesota) and will go sit on the couch now and take some of my own advice!)

  • Rosa Bill

    When I look back at my first year at university, the thing I most regret is not accepting the help that was offered me. I thought that, now that I was away from home and an Adult, I had to and should be able to figure out everything for myself. Maybe you could recommend taking advantage of any help that's offered–not just with course work, but with navigating all the new things you have to be responsible for in your life.

  • junowho

    make sure to tell the freshman to take advantage of Hot TandC TAs!

  • Diana

    While your worrying is understandable, so many people are eager to hear what you have to say. How often does this opportunity happen for people? Your chance to be heard and to teach and to show off what a kick ass cool dude is like. Seriously? Nothing to sweat….have fun and we are all looking forward to this event.