“Good morning. How’s everyone doing today? I can’t speak for family, friends and faculty – but as a graduate, I am experiencing a mix of emotions: I feel bittersweet, happy, and filled with fear and wonder regarding the next door in life that I am opening today. Although I may know a few things that lie behind this door, there remain many unknowns. This is building my curiosity (and anxiety) to incredibly heightened levels.
Logic tells me to find a way to rid myself of this worry so I take comfort in what one of my computer science professors told me very early in my career here at MSU. “Take it piece by piece, one small step at a time.” At the time, he was advising me on a computer science project problem I was having, however, I also believe this to be the secret to conquering all obstacles that life throws our way.
The year before I was born, on August 6, 1991 the World Wide Web became available for public use. The internet of things has been an integral part of shaping each of our lives. I’m sure I’m not the first person to tell you that the field of computer science is filled with opportunity. This opportunity is growing at not a steady rate, but rather exponentially. Technology, is taking over the world we live in today.
How? Well, take for example the number of smartphones in this room right now. Then, think about the possibilities a smartphone brings to us. It provides GPS and location services, social media, health data (like heart rate and number of steps per day), a connection to the internet, it’s a camera, a notepad, it brings access to books, movies and email. Oh, and we can’t forget – it’s a phone too! Some smartphones even use fingerprint scanning techniques for security purposes. And all of this is small enough to fit right in our pockets. The kicker? Well, the first iPhone was released when many of us were in high school – June, 2007. That’s right – only about eight years ago.
No other field has growth of this level – the speed of technological advancements is incredible and with accelerated growth comes numerous opportunities.
The greatest opportunity in tech, is flexibility in our career path. I’m grateful to have had the choice to start my career as an Applications Engineer at Humana next month. For those of you who do not know, Humana is a health and well-being company, headquartered in Louisville, KY. Like myself, some are starting their careers. While others are walking across the stage today to go to graduate school. These graduate degrees and employment opportunities vary incredibly. Some of us will venture to careers in pure software development, while others will work toward further degrees in the medical or law fields. With this degree some of us will become teachers, managers, or pursue other dreams we have. My point is, if Robert Frost (a poet) were here today telling us of the paths we could take on our journey of life, there would not be just two roads…there would be hundreds of thousands of roads. Such a number of paths might be overwhelming for some of us, yet, it is important to remember that walking across the stage today does not mean that each of our paths needs to be all planned out. Picture your path as a trek of stepping stones, where each stone is an opportunity, life event, or even just a day in your future life. If you skip across the stones, life will likely be a jumbled mess of stressful times. However, if you step from stone to stone, carefully and thoughtfully, then life will likely flow much more smoothly and successfully.
Of course, a smooth path is not always the case – that certainly wouldn’t teach us anything (and it wouldn’t be fun either)! Along with opportunities, the area of computer science comes with responsibility and challenges. Graduates, I would ask that each of you remember the power that technology possesses. The development of technology at such an aggressive rate, can and does present dangers, accidents and problems. I would like to remind you each to think before you act, to practice integrity and respect for the good of humanity in all that you do in life. Each of these behavioral techniques takes poise and thought – ultimately, they take time.
I encourage each of you to take the opportunities presented to you, be aware of the challenges we face when working with technology and those who utilize it, do what you love, thrive in this technological era, work to be optimistic each and every day, and make time for those you care about. Most importantly, take life one step at a time. If you do this, I am certain you will have a grand adventure.
It’s time, fellow graduates. It’s time for each of us to chase our life’s purpose. It’s time for us to hit the ground running and say ‘hello world.’ Go green!” — Ashlee DeLine, Graduation May 2015