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What Now? (2014 Commencement Edition)

Oh dear.

You’re graduating.

This is a disaster! Now you’ll never be James Franco. You can’t even be Ben Stiller, or any of our famous dropouts-turned-stars. I know you’ve worked hard over the last four years for that diploma, but you still have a chance!

So run, Forrest, run! Run for the hills and hide! Declare another major, tell the registrar that you actually flunked one of your GEs back in your first year; do anything, anything at all that would let you stay for just another year.

Otherwise, you’re kind of stuck in an inescapable current that’s headed for the maelstrom of pandemonium that we call real life.

Real life can be a cold and depressing place. In that macrocosm, the old adage “work is its own reward” often rings true; positive feedback for good work is more of the exception than the rule.

But cheer up! There is feedback! It just comes in different forms than what you’re used to.

Are people yelling at you? Good; this is a sign that you’re doing something right. Unless, of course, this happens to be a sign that you’re one of those evangelical maniacs on Bruin Walk instead.

But I digress. Of course, congratulations ought to be in order:

Congratulations! You’ve made it!

Never again will you have to trudge up Bruin Walk for an 8 a.m. Nor will you ever bawl your eyes out after bombing another final hereafter. And you can say goodbye to worrying about those brutal bell curves and, of course, bid those overcrowded quarterlies adieu.

But before you do, take a moment to reflect on your time here at UCLA. Wherever you may have come from, you’ve made a life for yourself here. You’ve made new friends, learned new things, picked up new hobbies and garnered a whole host of new experiences that you may have never come across otherwise.

Can you remember your orientation? Your first roommate(s)? Your first class? Your first football game? Your first celebrity sighting? Your first final?

What about your last roommate(s)? Your last football game? Your last class? Your last final?

Honestly, I’m not sure what to think.

Yes, I could pretend that you’re all a bunch of those super-in-love-with-my-college people who are so school spirited and therefore so incredibly sad to be graduating but will continue to be super involved with your alma mater and endow it with generous donations (and please do; tuition is getting insane). On the other hand, I’m sure that a significant minority of you belong to the so-done-with-college-and-school-#yolo demographic. But in reality, I’d like to think that most of you are a little of both.

Needless to say, much has come to pass in the last four years. The world as it is now in 2014 is very different than it was in 2010, which, and I know this is hard to believe, was a world in which there existed neither Snapchat nor Instagram.

Indeed, these last four years have brought about revolutions in the world’s most volatile regions, the collapse of the global economy and its agonizingly slow recovery, the conclusion of a decade of American involvement in the Iraqi conflict, not to mention the very redefinition of the American Dream itself.

Here at UCLA, the last four years have been no less eventful. Here are just a few highlights:

Pauley refurbishment (2010 – 2012)

UCLA certainly didn’t pinch pennies when it came to renovating its beloved arena. The newly refurbished state-of-the-art indoor arena has a seating capacity of about 13,800 people and hosts a number of campus-wide events.

Feast opening (2011)

After spending $5.1 million on renovations, Feast is often seen as UCLA’s attempt to cater to its “growing Asian demographic” and overall student demand. And it’s been astonishingly successful. I am well aware that money can’t buy happiness, but this is as close as it gets. Food coma, here I come.

Winning in football v. USC (2012, 2013)

We beat them. We’re better than them. End of story.

Bplate opening (2013)

This health-themed dining hall is considered by many to be a step up even from UCLA’s other oft-vaunted dining halls. It even has its own Yelp! page with a respectable rating of 4.5 stars.

Mock trial beats Princeton (2014)

Long story short: We beat 600+ other schools and came in 1st. Even the Ivy Leagues got nothing on us. ‘Nuf said.

And this is all part of your legacy, Class of 2014. And it’s quite an admirable one, I might add.

So once again, congratulations, Class of 2014. You’re going to do great things.

Congratulations, and good luck out there in the real world; not that any of you need it.

But goodness gracious, who am I kidding? We all know the state this economy is in. You’re not going out into the real world; you’re going to grad school.

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