School of Public & Environmental Affairs at IUPUI 2018 Commencement Address
This is a copy of the speech made by David Lewis during today’s SPEA commencement. Lewis was selected as the school’s student speaker for the ceremony.
“I like to imagine that the world is one big machine. You know, machines never have any extra parts. They have the exact number and type of parts they need. So, I figure if the entire world is a big machine, I have to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.”
“This quote by author Brian Selznick demonstrates that now is the time to consider our future.
Good morning classmates, family, friends, faculty, staff, and administrators.
Many times, when we talk about purpose, we look at it through the lenses of obtaining wealth, receiving fame, or living a moderate life. However, let’s talk about your purpose as it relates to your passion in helping others. Your passion will determine your purpose.
What is that one thing you enjoy doing? What is that thing that keeps you up late at night, besides binge watching Grey’s Anatomy, The Walking Dead, or Scandal? What is that thing you dream about? You may be passionate about the natural environment, the criminal justice system, constitutional rights, or education policy. Whatever that desire is, you must unleash it into the world. Remember, you are a part of the machine. And a machine must have all of its parts before it begins to function.
Think about it…If you do not do <blank>, what will happen to them? If you do not write that book, what is going to happen to those people who are depending on your knowledge? If you do not invent that product that has been in your head for years, what is going to happen to people who need that? If you do not start that nonprofit organization, what will happen to those people in third world countries who need your assistance?
You have to ask yourself these questions because everything you are doing is not just for you, it is to help someone else. There are people depending on you and they do not even know who you are. They are waiting on something you already have. You already have gifts, skills, and talents prepackaged inside of you from God.
You just have to make sure nothing hinders your purpose in helping people. There are three things that can impede your progress:
Fear of the unknown: You do not want to stretch beyond where you are at. You like to stay wrapped up in your bubble and you enjoy feeling comfortable. But, you must trust yourself and remember that somebody needs you. You are a part of the machine. The world cannot and will not move if it does not have you.
Doubt: The wrong person to doubt is yourself. Be careful not to place your validation in awards, accomplishments, or accolades. When you receive that rejection letter or denial, do not to break. Be careful not to think that it was your resume or experiences that were going to get you that job. It’s about who you are….your character. Look, you were an amazing and powerful individual before you earned those awards and gained those experiences. Doubt also creeps in when you look on Snapchat or Instagram and you notice your friends getting internships, having fun….it just seems like their life is perfect, right? That is where we make the mistake. The comparison kills the motivation needed to fuel your dreams.
Fear of failure: When you have fear, you do not have faith. I like to look at faith as an acronym – Fully. Anticipating. Impossibilities. That. Happen (e/p). Faith says when the door closes, I am going to get up, rectify my mistakes, and search for another opportunity.
So do not allow the fear of the unknown, doubt, and the fear of failure hinder you from where you are going in life.
Your purpose is to use your passion to help someone else who did not have the chance to earn a degree or begin a career. Your purpose is to utilize what you are passionate about to help someone else. Your purpose will take you beyond job offers, large houses, and fancy cars. A professor once told my class, “The reason I am standing here before you is because someone took a chance on me.” Author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “You can have anything you want in life, if you just help enough other people get what they want.” The best thing you could do is keep a lookout for those who may need a little bit of help. Remember, you are graduating from SPEA where you majored in making a difference. This world is a machine and it cannot operate unless all of its parts are functioning and that includes you.
Thank you. Congratulations Class of 2018!”