Julie Andrews to Grads: ‘Go Out and Kick Butt’

Get over yourself. That was the message delivered by Julie Andrews, 77, to the graduates of the University of Colorado, Boulder in early May.

sound of music posterUnder a cloudless sky in Boulder, Colo., on May 10, she began by finding common ground with the graduates at America’s premiere party school, claiming to have welcomed the dawn with them the night before. Then she declared kinship with the University of Colorado mascot – asserting that her own gender-bending role in the 1982 musical Victor/Victoria gave her insights into the female bison celebrated as “Ralphie.”

The heart of Andrews’ talk, though, was a much-better-than-average summation of the usual graduation day concerns: overcoming fear of the new and unknown, discovering the value of lifelong learning and turning adversity into opportunity. She also talked endearingly about the advantages of a rich life that includes the arts, in all their complexity and variety.

The strongest section of her speech was the description of growing up – nailing the moment when self-awareness, self-satisfaction, self-self-self melted away, and she began to realize that life was about other people.  “Don’t just engage in random acts of kindness,” she pleaded. “Engage in planned acts of kindness.”

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See also: Don’t Give Your College Graduate a Free Ride

Getting past your ego is also the subject of a wonderful short film that made the rounds on the web in May, based on a commencement speech given by writer David Foster Wallace (his Infinite Jest is considered by many one of the best novels of the mid-20th century) at Ohio’s Kenyon College in 2005. Wallace committed suicide in 2008.

The nine-minute film, This Is Water, produced by a company called The Glossary, mixes music with excerpts from Wallace’s address, while his words are dramatized by actors.

Sadly, the film has been removed from YouTube because of a copyright dispute. If it resurfaces, we’ll feature it again here.

Instead, we’re forced to present the immortal words of comedian Stephen Colbert. The star of The Colbert Report welcomed the graduates of the University of Virginia into the next chapter of their lives with these musings:
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