It has been a while since I gave my last speech, and I needed a fix! I got in my zone and it felt great! Today that drought ended in a big way with my keynote commencement address at the University of Minnesota's Physical Therapy Commencement Exercise. It was short, which is hard for me to do; but, I received many positive comments, saw a few longtime friends and made several amazing connections.
It will be interesting to see what results of the networking that went on with a few professors in the Green Room and a constant barrage of connecting and reconnecting in the reception area after the ceremony!
I played with the professor who hired me, the student who made it all happen and even got in a comment about that big mudslide at the University Medical Center yesterday!
Afterwards, I told one parent every time I give a presentation all I can think about on the way home are the things I did not say and wanted to. It is that way if I give a fifteen-minute keynote address or a six-hour workshop.
It is now more than six hours after my presentation and I am thinking of all kinds of things I wish I would have said.
The ceremony was held in the newly renovated Northrup Auditorium on the University of Minnesota's main campus. The irony in me speaking on that stage was I graduated on that same stage in December 1980 with the grand stairway for "The Nutcracker Suite" dominated the stage. That night, I had to be lifted onto the stage as there was no ramp.
Fresh from the farm in South Dakota, my uncle commented as he stepped into this huge auditorium, "You could sure stack a lot of bales in this place!" It is all in your frame of reference.
Today, the highlight of my speech was when I talked about another commencement address I gave way back in 1998 to the Native American OIC in south Minneapolis and I got to experience something I have never experienced before, nor ever will again. I wrote about it in my book.
I was privileged to witness Dr. Leon Sullivan, who was commonly known as The Lion from Zion. He was a civil rights leader in the 1960s along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a famous Baptist minister in Philadelphia for decades.
I saw the spirit come into him for a few minutes that day and he was able to express the passion he had for his work. I wanted the new graduates to understand they need to be passionate about the work they are going to do with the patients they will help when they start practicing.
They are already aware of the skills they need to be successful in their chosen field, but I was trying to drive home the point one more time. Many of the fifty graduates already have jobs and once they pass their boards, they will be Doctorates of Physical Therapy.
After my speech, they had the rest of the ceremony which included handing out several awards and recognizing students for their outstanding achievements, and as the new graduates received their diplomas, I was privileged to shake their hands and congratulate them on their accomplishments. It was an impressive group of young people who are ready and qualified to take their place as physical therapists. Many of them are in their mid-20s and dare I say it, looks so young! Of course, that is coming from someone who graduated on that stage thirty-four years ago!
Let me close with a photograph from before my presentation as I sat on the stage at Northrup:
Click on the image to make it larger:
As always, I look forward to your comments.