David Mestre, Director of the Henry B. duPont III Planetarium at the Discovery Museum, was invited to speak at the Stepping Forth Ceremony of the Inter-district Discovery Magnet School’s 8th grade class. The School’s close proximity to the Museum has led to a unique relationship which enables students to regularly come to the Museum for an array of STEM workshops, science demonstrations, Planetarium shows, field trips, and for some even special after school and summer programs. Many of the students are on a first-name basis with Museum educators.
“I was very flattered and honored to have been called upon to share some thoughts to the graduates of Discovery Magnet as they embarked on the next chapter in their exciting future ahead,” David says.
The full transcript of David’s inspiring speech is below.
Ladies and gentlemen, honored guests, and graduates. It is a distinct pleasure for me to speak to you today here at your stepping forth ceremony.
In my time, when I graduated, I remembered this moment as a commencement ceremony. It was a solemn gathering with our teachers, family and friends to mark a rite of passage. To mark a Chapter’s ending in an all too fleeting moment when all of our paths in life crossed together in one place, one last time. As I speak to you now I remember that moment with nostalgia as I’m sure all those who have passed that same point in their lives remember it as well.
As in commencements and stepping forth ceremonies past, we invoke words to impart to you as you embark on an unseen and sometimes uncertain future. My words are shared with you as one who, like you, stepped forth into the future and now has seen some of that future become my past.
As I look back on my own journey in life, I have learned certain lessons that I hope to impart to you as you step forth from this moment, this gathering, and this final class at Discovery Magnet School.
First, YOU ARE GOING TO FAIL. Your failure may even be epic. I mean the kind of failure that people will talk about for a very long time. Now Don’t take my words to mean that I am setting you up for failure. Nor do I ever want you to come to the belief that you’re a failure. I want you to be prepared for the certainty that life will happen and there will be failures and they don’t have to define you. In fact they offer you some of the best opportunities to test you and strengthen you and help you grow. It builds in you a resilience and a grit that a life of easy successes and comfortable accomplishments can not teach you. More importantly it means that you were willing to take risks and dive into deep uncharted waters teeming with undiscovered things.
Second, you are not going to lead a problem free life. I want you and need you to embrace that. Every generation inherits a world filled with problems that need to be solved. But there are some problems that are worth the talent, the energy, and the drive to solve. If you have the gift to solve a problem and have the choice of which problem you can solve, try to choose the problem that helps people, that makes the world a better place, that leaves the world better than you found it. Solve the problems that generations from now people will still be talking about. My generation still looks with awe at the generation before that put man on the moon, so no pressure. Oh and as for the iPhone, the iPad, XBox, PlayStation, Minecraft, Amazon, Tesla, SpaceX, and Marvel and DC, my generation says, you’re welcome.
And lastly, Tomorrow you’re not going to be the same person you are today. Next year, you may not even recognize the person you once were. Ten years from now you will shock the teachers that remembered you when you walked these halls what seemed like ages ago. Twenty years from now your teacher’s old music will become your old music. Age happens as certainly as change. But you are never too old to become what you can be tomorrow, and every other tomorrow from now on, if you live a life of learning. You will see our understanding of the world and universe change before your eyes. The technology around you will advance in ways you can scarcely imagine. Stay curious, keep an open mind, and always ask questions. The boundless possibilities of the changing world around you never gets old even when you do.
So graduates, step forth to a new and exciting world teaming with possibility and waiting to be explored. And I hope you fail spectacularly, have a life filled with problems to solve, and age gracefully with a mind as sharp as it is today.
Congratulations to the Inter-district Discovery Magnet School’s Class of 2016!