April 28, 2014

Brian Finn 2014 Spring Commencement Address

The following is a transcript of the speech delivered by Wentworth graduate Brian Finn during the school’s April 26, 2014 Commencement event.

Thank you President Pantic, guests, administrators, faculty and staff, family, friends, and above all, Congratulations to the Class of 2014!!

I truly feel extremely honored to be able to speak on behalf of this great class on our graduation day.  But before we leave our Wentworth campus, I have a few questions for us all.

When I started writing this speech, I had a very difficult time thinking of what I wanted to say to my classmates today. It was only after many scrapped ideas that I realized that what I would much rather do is ask a question or two. So, here’s my question: What’s next?

Two words that might seem fairly meaningless alone, but together they can be something powerful. They create a question that commands a response, a question that everyone should answer, and then strive to live by.

What’s next? As students, we’ve been asking ourselves this question over and over, sometimes without realizing it. After a big exam that covers a large chunk of course material, you might have asked yourself, what’s next? The answer?  Of course! A trip over to Punter’s!

Or after having presented at your final critique for the semester. That same question came up.  What’s next? Exactly! Three straight days of nothing but sleep. After all, you had certainly earned it with the amount of work you put into those models.

But for some questions, we may not have answers –At least not right away. For me, right now I’m asking myself, what’s next?   What if this speech tanks?  I could end up looking like a fool on someone’s YouTube video that could be seen all over the world! But I suppose as long as I don’t end up with a Web Redemption on Tosh.O then I think I’ll be okay.

On a more serious note, I don’t have answers right now to the questions of what type of engineering will I do? Or what company will I be working for?  And I’m sure there are those that have these same thoughts sitting right here among our graduating class.  But I can assure you that although we don’t have the answers right now - we’ll all be okay! As long as we keep asking the question.  What’s next?

I once came across a manifesto on a startup educational website, part of which read. “The future belongs to the curious. The ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke it, question it, and turn it inside out.”

The perfect testament to the life lesson in this manifesto are the gentlemen sitting before us from the Black and Gold Society.  Celebrating the 50th anniversary of their graduation from Wentworth. For the last 50 years, they have been trying, exploring, and asking questions of life. Today, we can look to them as role models, for all of us in this graduating class to look up to.

Wentworth has taught us all that we should not be afraid to experiment, in fact it is highly encouraged here. In our time here, we have built models, drawn detailed sketches, created complex assemblies, designed circuits, - and somehow we’ve developed a sixth sense for finding any place where there might be free food.

But we leave with a platform and a basis from which to start asking bigger questions. We have learned so much during our time here - through our classes and in our co-ops. The countless hours spent building and rebuilding models in Professor J.P. Allen’s Studio, to get them just right, will serve as experiences to draw upon when trying to visualize your next great project. Even if some of those memories make you cringe thinking of how sleep deprived you were.

 Or the vast number of iterations of math problems, done out on whiteboards, only to find out there was an easier way the whole time, or that it was never going to be on the test in the first place. These experiences will serve as a reminders to never give up the next time you are faced with a problem in your career.

But don’t worry if you still have no idea how to draw the root locus of a non-unity feedback system. Your classmates are not going to judge you. Or if your model didn’t hold up to the earthquake test during your review. Don’t panic. In the short term, it may have seemed disastrous. However, in the end aren’t we all better off than all those who never even bothered to try?

Today, we have with us the first ever graduates of the Masters of Facilities Management program, from OUR College of Professional and Continuing Education. You were brave enough to challenge yourselves, evenings and weekends, taking on courses perhaps while juggling a career and a family – not to mention trying to find a parking spot after 5pm! We congratulate all of the Continuing Education graduates here today - for never ceasing to ask what’s next, and pushing yourselves to attain new heights in your careers.

So to the class of 2014, we too should not stop trying and testing. Don’t stop being curious. Don’t stop asking, what’s next?

Yes, We still have a lot to learn from the experiences and challenges yet to come in life, - but we’re going to learn a lot and become better people as a result of the questions we ask while going forward.

I challenge everyone here today, not just the graduating class, to go home and at the end of each day, think about what you have learned or achieved,  and how you can build upon it the next day by simply asking – and answering. What’s next?  Never stop striving for more, because there is ALWAYS more out there to learn and do otherwise, you limit yourself to a life of complacency.

I’d like to leave you with a quote from a great man, someone who continued to ask – “OK, what’s next.” For the sake of your own curiosity, I ask that you look him up if you don’t know who said this. But here’s a clue – you may have “wished upon a star” because of this man.

His quote really applies to Wentworth, and all of us here today. This distinguished man said:  “Around here, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Thank you and congratulations to the Class of 2014.

And to you I ask. What’s next?

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