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Humorous graduation speech given by student Bryan Fulton on May 25 2003, celebrating the B.A. graduating class of 2003 in Computer Science from UC Berkeley

[??? missed first few words] ... 3 or 4 years ago, all I can think about is philosopher Berkeley, whom the city was named after, and whom believed that nothing was real. Just that moment, and until today, I have been anxious to see if there's anything actually in that diploma scroll. My concerns aside, I enter, and quickly find the reality that was the 67 percent I received on my first midterm. Of course as a freshman, I freaked out, assuming I had failed, and I'll never survive at Berkeley. I mean, what would my parents say. Worst of all, I'll never make it into the computer science major. But this is computer science, and as it turns out, the average -- or the mean -- was 40%! Rendering a 67 an A+. [laughter] I realized then that as computer science majors, we all live ... and die ... by the mean. [laughter] In fact I have trouble calling it the "mean", as it's been so nice to me over the years. [laughter]. It's funny how you find yourself reacting to hearing your close friend sadly confessing that he doesn't think he did very well on that 170 midterm. You console him, and say that that test doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. Then you immediately walk away, hoping his score will possibly drop the mean just enough to kick you up to the next standard deviation. [wild laughter, clapping, and monkey screaming]

But as we all know, CS is not just exams and homework. We can never forget those beloved projects. Now one thing Berkeley prides itself on is its amazing diversity. This is an interesting concept when it comes to computer science, as we can see if we look at how project teams are organized. Usually there's some mixture of three to four distinct types of people. First up, you have the guy who starts working at 10 pm every night, and burns the midnight oil till the sun comes up. Then, there's the student who wants to casually meet at Cafe Strada at 9 in the morning, to go talk about project goals over a hot mocha double shot expresso. Of course we all know the guy who was gung-ho on the first small project, but quickly faded away for the rest of the real work. [light laughter] And lastly, we have what I like to call the "no show" -- the student whose login is on your group submission, but no one has ever actually met. [laughter] You know who you are. [laughter]

Some of the more unique people I've encountered have made such comments as: "You know who I love. Those people who lower the mean by not even showing up for the test! God bless those people." [laughter] Or my friend Evan said, "I'm waiting for Professor Joseph to bring the donuts. And I'm not getting just six this time!" [laughter] Or, "I don't know what's worse -- the fact that Soda has one shower for 450 people, or that no one actually uses it." [laughter] My friend Leonard overheard two CS students -- the first one asked, "Hey do you want to drop by Soda?" The friend replied, "No I don't want to go to Soda! It's Friday night! The place will be packed!" [wild laughter, clapping, and monkey screaming] More often that not, these quotes were uttered during our all-night lab sessions. And I couldn't help but notice the blazing similarities between a lab in Soda, and a casino in Vegas. [laughter] It's addictive -- once you start you always need to keep coming back. [laughter] You never know the time of day, or the weather. [laughter] You can never seem to find the exit. [laughter] The casino is going broke trying to pay the electricity bill. [laughter] There's always a crowd. Everyone's got a bucket of quarters -- for the vending machine. [laughter] You never seem to come out on top. And the women are few and far between. [wild laughter, clapping, and monkey screaming] And charged by the hour -- for tutoring.

But in the end, I look at this great accomplishment over the past four -- or five -- years, and realize that this is just a transition, to the next 7 years of hard work -- paying off our student loans. And quite frankly, this was nothing like Saved By The Bell the College Years. Congrats to the class of 2003. Thank you very much. Thank you Pawtucket!

- Bryan Fulton

Note: Speech transcribed from tape recorder by William Wu. Question marks in speech denote undecipherable sections. Please send corrections or typos to wwu at ocf.berkeley.edu

Page last modified Monday, 17-Nov-2008 13:11:16 PST

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