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It’s Graduation Day at Penn

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University of Pennsylvania 253rd Commencement

It was a brisk, but uplifting day at the 253rd Commencement Celebration at the University of Pennsylvania where my 6’5″ nephew graduated from the School of Engineering. ?I came in for the festivities held at Franklin Field in Philadelphia.

With all of the doom and gloom in the air, when you have the opportunity to celebrate something special with your family, you get on a plane, a train, or a bus to be a part of creating these memories. Today was one of those days. Although there was an earthquake in Los Angeles, a shooting at the Beverly Center, and even sadly one of our guests showed up hours late to graduation dinner last night due to a pedestrian who jumped in front of a moving train, today’s festivities were filled with hope and joy.?

The students from the class of 2009 and their guests were treated to a commencement where Eric F. Schmidt, CEO of Google, received an honorary Doctor of Science Degree and presented the commencement address. Schmidt told the crowd that “Information is power.” He commented in his speech that there are 1 billion transistors in our cell phones, and it costs less to make a transistor than to print a dot of a newspaper. The students, dressed in caps and gowns, also had their iPhones and BlackBerry’s in their hands and were tweeting away throughout the ceremony. It’s a different world, and according to Schmidt, and we are living in a Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter generation. He stated, “We had phone booths, you have cell phones.”

After lunch, we attended the School of Engineering and Applied Science undergraduate graduation ceremony. The Keynote speaker was the Mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter. The Mayor reflected on how he tried several times as an undergraduate of Penn to be accepted to Wharton and kept getting turned down. It was a happy day for me and my extended family. Congratulations to all of the students in the Class of 2009 across the country. May all your dreams come true.

Julie Spira is an author, entrepreneur, and radio show host. Visit her at


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