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Commencement Addresses

William Shatner to NEIT’s Class of 2018: ‘The real world is both beautiful and ugly’

Below are excerpts from William Shatner’s commencement address to New England Institute of Technology’s Class of 2018:

I want to talk to you about hope. I want to talk to you about dreaming, about utopia, about ambition. You’re about to step into the real world. And the real world is both beautiful and ugly. You can see the beauty from the windows of the university far more easily than the slums of the city. You can see the beauty of pure learning, the theoretical possibilities, the cleanliness of democracy from these hallowed halls far easier than in the grimy corridors of life downtown.

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Yes, the real world has many facets and the graduating student can get lost in the grind of the moment. But there is also another side to life and to me that aspect is hope. Hope for the future, hope for relationships, hope for useful work, hope for happiness.

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You have been given a piece of paper that represents a lot of hard work – your degree. And if you roll that piece of paper up and hold it to your eye, it becomes a telescope – a telescope of hope. You can fixate on the future and look at what you want with focus, precision, with concentration.


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Change surrounds us. We are enclosed in a writhing envelope of change. You students getting the bum rush out of the cloistered halls into the cluttered corridors of life need to be on the tips of your toes. You have got to be ready for change. You have got to be ready to seek opportunity where it exists not where you wish it to be.

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There lies just beyond our fingertips the mystery of life. Just beyond our imagination, a universe of contemplation. We have no idea of anything. Merely glimmers of possibilities. It’s up to you to explore those worlds. Up to you to find some tantalizing curiosity and follow it. Explore it. Enjoy it. It might take you to worlds you haven’t dreamed of.

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