University of Rochester Community
Dear University of Rochester Community,
In many ways, the world is on fire right now. These are complicated, emotionally upsetting, and overwhelming times. Today I would like to share with you a handful of additional thoughts to my original list of 100 Things I Wish I Knew After I Graduated From College that I believe are unique to today, May 13 2022. My hope is that when you look back 20 years from today’s graduation, perhaps one of these thoughts might make your paths a little easier and more enjoyable.
Each of you are unique. You need to own and embrace this gift and live your own authentic life. Pick the work that you love, regardless of what others may think. Surround yourself with the people that you know are the good ones, regardless of who others may consider popular. Don’t change who you are for any company, boss, friend or partner. Of course, you should always be working on yourself for constant improvement. Just don’t only accept who you are but love who you are and let the world truly see you and enjoy you. Today’s fractured society is in desperate need of authenticity, independent thought, honesty, and humor.
Social Media has some wonderful attributes that helps connect all of us efficiently and in real time. Please keep in mind that for the very most part, social media only reflects people’s personal highlight reels. While it looks like you are always falling behind, remember that we each have our own timelines, and that is ok. When it looks like you are missing out on all of the fun and not with the “in crowd,” remember that most of the time what you think you see, is not what others are really doing, feeling and experiencing. Life is challenging and hard for everyone. That is why success and happiness, when it comes, is so rewarding.
Given the state of today’s world, it is easy to look around and be riddled with guilt that you are fortunate, and others are not. Guilt is a wasted emotion. It’s not possible for any of us as individuals to stop a senseless war in Ukraine. It’s hard for any of us on our own to quickly fix inequality, prejudice, or social injustice. It’s basically impossible for any of us to make a direct personal impact on a global pandemic. It doesn’t mean that each of us should not be doing all we can to use every resource at our disposal to help with these giant issues. We should and we must. But you have to accept that realistically it is very hard for any of us as individuals to truly impact or solve these massive problems. What each of us can do are constant acts of kindness to everyone around us, especially those most in need. It is ok to build your life and even enjoy it while the world is on fire, as long as you’re constantly spreading kindness, compassion and assistance that helps other people get through their day. You can only do what you can do, but you must do what you can do. The collection of small differences by all of us add up, and miraculously the accumulation of all these small acts of kindness changes the world in a major way.
Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing are going to take the incredibly fast-moving world we all live in today and put it in hyper speed during your careers. Whether you are going to be a Doctor, Engineer, Philosopher, Art Historian, or Business Professional, how you do your job is going to be affected by computers creating their own programs to solve complex problems. I’m not judging whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. Like everything else, there are aspects of both. But you need to incorporate this eventuality into your career planning and life going forward. Those who embrace this often-scary reality will watch their professional trajectory diverge materially from those who choose to ignore it.
You are all leaving a safety net of guaranteed friends of the same age and with at least some common interests. It has been relatively easy to create a nice circle of friends while at the U of Rochester. In the real world, it will be harder to do this. There are no rules, orchestrated events and even less spare time to make friends. This is now 100% on you. It is up to every one of you now to make it your job to accumulate people in your life. I have this rule: if I don’t like your negative energy, how you treat people, your motivations, or your ethics, you cannot get near me. However, if I do like your positivity, your kindness, your selflessness, and your integrity, you cannot get away from me! You each should take the time to create your own rules regarding the type of people you want to accumulate.
Class of 2022, Congratulations. To my 15 graduating Alan and Jane Handler Scholarship students, I want to give all of you a special shout out. What you have overcome in your lives and how you have so remarkably distinguished yourselves makes me incredibly proud to be associated with each of you. For all of you graduates to be, this is not the end, this is the beginning. You are entering the real world at just the right time. We need your positive energy, compassion, optimism, intelligence, humor and good spirit now, more than ever.
Chair of the Board of Trustees, University of Rochester
CEO, Jefferies Financial Group
Pronouns: he, him, his
@handlerrich Twitter | Instagram