Monday, May 26, 2008

Gregg Graduating

As I grow up- well, I’m done growing- as I age, the years come and go faster and faster. It seems only yesterday that I graduated from college, yet in truth I graduated three years ago. Last weekend my family and I packed up two cars and set off from Jersey City on an eight hour journey through cornfields and cow pastures to Pittsburgh. We were headed to Carnegie Mellon University to see my little brother graduate from college.

He graduated with a BS in Physics and will begin a PhD program in the fall (my little brother the mad scientist). It’s nice to see him succeed, but damn.

Rain was forecast for the day of the graduation but just as the ceremony began the sun poked its way through the clouds. Al Gore was the primary speaker and he gave a decent if unspectacular speech about energy policy (to my dad’s disappointment he held off on declaring himself a candidate for November). As he was talking I playfully asked my uncle why Gore wasn’t recounting how he invented the internet. My uncle murmured something back about the former VP not wanting to perjure himself.

But the speaker who really moved the crowd was CMU Computer Science professor Randy Pausch.

Professor Pausch was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and given three to six months to live… last August (no, he hasn’t “beaten” it though, it didn’t look like he had that much longer to live), and he gave a short, truly inspiring speech about living life to the fullest, if you want to watch the speech -about six minutes long- it's posted below.

For a much longer version of the speech check out Pausch's homepage here and scroll down a bit to "the Last Lecture" (it’s like 70 minutes but it’s good).

During the ceremony the CMU President also announced the university had just graduated its first class on its Qatar campus (that’s right, Qatar, the small Middle Eastern country).

Carnegie Mellon’s Qatar campus isn’t a study abroad site. It’s a local Carnegie Mellon with local matriculating students. Now, I’m not sure quite how I feel about CMU’s Qatar venture, but they’re not the only American university to do this (NYU, where I will soon be attending again, is in on the game as well), but it’s pretty interesting and is a story that I’m sure most Americans do not know about.
Which brings us to other Middle Eastern issues.
Life is now moving forward in Lebanon once again as the various factions have come to a power sharing agreement. But I'll save writing about this for another day or so.

And no, I’m not so presumptuous as to think anybody either does or should care about what I think regarding the all too explosive events- both literally and metaphorically- in the Middle East. I write about it (and other things) to attempt to organize my thoughts and further my own understanding of the world. It’s a vitally important region of the world and will only continue to be. Its problems (and by extension ours) aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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