|Penn Commencement 2013
May 21, 2013,
Volume 59, No. 33
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Remarks given Monday, May 13, 2013 by Dwight Jaggard, Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering; and Incoming Chair of the Faculty Senate.
Detecting Your Mission
Good morning everyone—Vice President Joe Biden and honored guests, President Amy Gutmann, Provost Vince Price, Deans, faculty and our most important attendees, graduating students and their families.
I am Dwight Jaggard, chair of the Penn Faculty Senate and I am delighted to join you in this festive occasion that is a marker of your transition from being students of Penn to becoming alums of Penn.
There is a story I have told once before and it seems appropriate to use it at this place in the program. Here I can identify with Al Gore, who when being one of a number of speakers said, “I feel a bit like the fifth husband of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor. I know just what is expected of me... but I am not sure I can keep it interesting.” Well, this morning I will try to do both what is expected of me and also will try to keep it interesting.
For the expected part, it is my great pleasure to congratulate you on behalf of more than 4,000 members of Penn’s faculty. Without students and graduates, there would be, of course, no university. The majority of us who are faculty have been here during your entire time at Penn—we have applauded your success, watched you mature as intellectuals and have been amazed at your talent and understanding. In some sense, we each took a chance on each other several years ago. Isn’t it great that it has paid off? You made the right choice and so did we! I wish you well in the years ahead. So, félicitaciones, badh? '? h?, mazel tov, g?ng x? n?, or simply congratulations from Penn’s faculty!
On the matter of being interesting, I would like to leave you with one thought for today. In a time where people are announcing their re-invention, their own transformation, their readiness to grab the next wave, there are some words of wisdom from a figure I often bring to the attention of my students in my leadership classes. That person is Victor Frankl. Frankl was a survivor of the holocaust, an inspiring author and an Austrian neurologist and psychotherapist. His book, Man’s Search for Meaning, is a classic in that it provides insight into how the human spirit can survive suffering. In Frankl’s case it was suffering through the Holocaust. Man’s Search for Meaning also lays the groundwork for Frankl’s pioneering logotherapy, a new approach to analysis focused on meaning. As I have changed and modulated my own career, one idea that has been very helpful has been Victor Frankl’s suggestion to “detect your mission.” This idea of detection is wonderful since it assumes that we all have a mission, a purpose, a deep reason for being on the planet. This is something that I deeply believe. [Of course I acknowledge that this mission, this purpose, can change over time.]
So, I encourage you who are graduates, to consider your own core values, strengths and passions... your opportunities, wide open vistas, and a multitude of available paths... and take some time to bring all of these together and to detect your mission, to find your purpose, to find your authentic self, and to discover how and where you will make your contribution. The search will be well worth it. And I wish you the very best of success in this next venture.