Yep, twenty-six years after my high school was founded, I became the sixth inductee into the alumni hall of fame. I know three of the other people, they all are notable in scientific circles.
Wow. The kid with the bad mullet and the anarchist symbols all over his notebooks got to come back and speak to an award ceremony for high-achieving kids. I wish I could go back and tell my eighteen year old self about this incredible honor. And that the principal would later be arrested for sexual deviancy.
Well, they asked me to say a few words or advice, so here's more or less what I said.
Appreciate your friends. You see them every day, and you kind of take it for granted that the old gang will always be together. But you'll grow older and grow apart, and one day you'll realize you haven't gotten together in years. Treasure this time when you all get to hang out whenever you want.
Travel. In a few years you'll have jobs, mortgages, children, and responsibilities. Now's your chance to see a little of the world. True, none of you have any money, but don't let that stop you. Strap on a backpack, do some volunteer work, sleep on a cot, and see some places no one else you know has been to. It'll make a great story one day.
Don't underestimate the value of a good education. You never know when you'll need the stuff you learn here. I had three years of Spanish and never paid attention. Ten years later I was standing in a Mexican hardware store, desperately wishing I knew the Spanish word for 'toilet plunger.'
Follow your dreams. Maybe you'll never play to a sold-out arena, perform on Broadway, start for the Yankees, or whatever. But maybe you will. Lord, if my dream can come true, then anyone's can.
Class of '93 rules! Go Bulldogs!