Commencement Challenge


Laura Garcia CannonI’ve got a huge weekend ahead of me. One filled with responsibility, intellect, and hopefully some inspiration. I have been asked to be the commencement speaker at Saint Mary’s College of California. Yes, my alma mater. What an honor! For a woman that gets paid to talk, I was at a loss of words when the President of the school called me earlier this year to ask me if I would consider it. Consider it? How could I say no? Why would anyone turn down such an honorable distinction? Now that I’ve agreed, I’ve determined why one would turn it down. What are you supposed to say? How can you be profound enough to guide 2500 undergraduate students as they embark on the biggest change of their lives? I spent the weekend, locked away writing, except for a few occasional walks of the dog to clear my mind, and my regular Sunday Morning Mass to pray for direction.

A weekend of writing, pondering, questioning, what can I leave with these graduates? What will they remember… ? What do they need to know? What would you say? If you could give one piece of advice to a college graduate what would it be? I’ve asked friends and family and an interesting pause followed by a glance to the heavens comes over them. You don’t want the cliche “aim high” kind of speech. You want to make a lasting impression. Can you make a lasting impression in today’s day and age of quick sound bites, senseless blogs and text messages that reduce the English language to letters? What would a graduate want to hear? What do they need to hear? What would you say? Interesting to think about don’t you think? Wish me luck.

Laura Garcia Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

6 Responses to “Commencement Challenge”

  1. june Says:

    laura, you’ll do just fine!! you are wonderful on tv and seem like a very genuine and relatable person. they’ll love you!

  2. Mike Inouye Says:

    As a friend and colleague, Laura, I refer you to one of the most memorable commencement addresses of recent years. The UC Berkeley 2007 Haas MBA ceremony with a unique spin from graduate Sean Silas.


    I know you will be equally inspiring for this year’s class at St. Mary’s.

    Break a leg and congratulation on the honor!

  3. Lisa Says:

    That is a daunting task but i’m sure you’ll be an inspiration – just share your wisdom (not wisdom teeth or possum teeth, or bring Ralphie5 with you)!

  4. Melody Says:

    There is so much pressure on these young people and they have internalized so many expectations for themselves…I would try to find a way to remind them how important it is to relax, that life has a funny way of taking care of itself if you don’t take things too seriously. Learn to trust your intuition, stop and smell the roses AND the coffee..

    I’m sure you were chosen Laura because you’re a stellar example of what St. Mary’s would hope all their grads become–successful women!

  5. Feeling the Pressure « The Breakfast Blog Says:

    […] the Pressure I am feeling the pressure. As the spouse of a commencement day speaker – what is my roll? How do I act? Laura is the speaker at St. Mary’s College graduation ceremony […]

  6. Janie Itami-Geiler Says:

    I wanted to thank you, Laura, for a very inspiring, entertaining, personal, hearthwarming and encouraging commencement speech you gave at the St. Mary’s College graduation ceremony on 5-24-08. I was one of the many proud parents of a son who graduated that day and I was so happy to hear you would be giving the speech since I have been a fan of your news show for quite a while. It was wonderful to hear about your personal journey and how you had the same fears, anxiety and hopes when you graduated and had to face the “real world”. My son took to heart your advice about pursuing what you love, to not get discouraged along the way but use every opportunity to learn and use that as a step to the next stage. I am so glad that your speech will be part of a wonderful way to cap my son’s 4 years at SMC. He had a very fulfilling 4 years there and will always feel connected to the school. You are a very inspiring example of the kind of student that comes out of SMC. My son attended a Christian Brothers high school in San Francisco (SHCP) so being at SMC was a familiar and a very nurturing environment to be in and I think it shows in the kind of people are graduates of SMC.
    I just wanted to say thank you and that you were inspiring!!
    Janie Itami-Geiler/mom of graduate of SMC-2008

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