I am what is called a non-traditional student. My roles as wife and mother made me a phantom on campus; I might have trudged along to the same classes, but I was not truly part of the Class of 2013 in many meaningful ways. I don’t know many of you. I never lived in the dorms with you, or shared supper with you. I’ve never taken a fitness class with you; or gone to a bar with you. I’ve been on campus past three o’clock only three times in as many years. I’m older than the average college student. I am unable to remind you of the good times we all had at that one party, or how awesome it was when the Vikings won that game, but I can tell you a little about society as I’ve experienced it and encourage you to change the community we all share.
The world has counted you out. They’ve accused you of being heartless, selfish, and socially unaware. They question your ability to succeed. As I’m sure you’ve heard, yours is one of the first generations predicted to do less well than your parents. To many of the world’s most powerful people and companies, you are little more than a consumer, and in some cases, a product. Not much is expected of you. As long as you continue to buy the next new iProduct, log on to the next social network, and buy the latest pair of fashionable sheepskin boots, the world will continue to spin exactly as it has for most of your lives. Some of you have earned this distinction. You’ve made it through your university years fueled by Starbucks and SparkNotes. Many of you, like me, have not imagined a single, original thought, not only in all your years at school, but in all your years combined. Instead, you’ve accepted the conclusions handed to you by your parents, professors, and peers, no matter how wrong you might think they are.