Michael Keaton Full Commencement Address At Kent State
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[Michael Keaton Full Commencement Address At Kent State]
In 1985, Mr. Keaton returned to the Kent campus to speak at an event. And what he said then, he said he hoped to return and speak again someday. Well, it’s 33 years later, and someday just happens to be today. Ladies and gentlemen, please offer a warm Kent State welcome home to our commencement speaker, Dr. Michael Keaton.
Thank you. Standing room only, baby. That’s the way we like it. I’m going to do my best to be short and concise, because I’m still worried we might get rain. Also, I’m very worried that you’re going to get utterly bored with me.
First of all, thank you. Thank you to everybody that made this possible, especially President Warren, and I’m going to confess something. I’m a little bit afraid of Beverly Warren. She’s not tall, but she’s a powerful woman, and she scares me a little bit. I find myself behaving a lot when I’m around her. Maybe it’s her title, maybe it’s her power.
[Michael Keaton:] Source: LYBIO.net
You know, the first thing I want to tell you, I want to talk about my shoes. I went to school for a year in Pittsburgh before I transferred here to Kent. Yes, and I had one pair of shoes. I brought those shoes to Kent, and my entire college career here at Kent, I had one pair of shoes. The same shoes, they were Adidas Stan Smiths, Classic.
The other day, I got the idea of possibly finding a pair of these shoes, thinking there’s no chance. Well folks. Hold on a minute. Let me put these babies on. One pair of shoes my entire college career. You can only imagine what they smelled like after a while. I wore out the right side of my toe, you know where it’s like you’re in northeastern Ohio in the slush and the cold and I was constantly doing this.
I was always shaking water out of my, I may have had another pair of shoes but this was basically it, this was basically my single pair of shoes. The first thing I want to say to the students here today is congratulations, you’ve already accomplished something I didn’t, you’ve graduated.
I also want to say, well in full disclosure, actually a lot of times when people say full disclosure, what they really mean is I want to come clean about something. I want to come clean about something. I never really liked school.
What are they doing behind me, are they getting nervous? Yeah. And this is the truth. I never really did, and I’m not making this up, until I came to Kent State. And that’s the truth.
When I was little, I had all these adults and people talking to me about school and this place called school and they’d describe it. It was this place where you’d go and it would be fun and you’d learn things like numbers and there would be older people there watching you and you’d sit in a desk inside a classroom, a little desk that you had to sit there all day long and be very good and sit still and it was a lot of fun. It sounded horrible to me. Why didn’t they just send me to hell, I thought.
My brothers and sisters would try and jump in and they’d say things to me like no, no, no, you get to go outside for recess for like 20 minutes and I thought to myself 20 minutes outside? I never even spend 20 minutes inside. I was never going to make it, I thought. 12 years of this, 12 years of this. This was like a nightmare to me.
But I’ll tell you something. When I came here to Kent, it really changed, and I’m not just saying that. I started to get kind of glimmers of hope in college back in Pittsburgh because there was this thing called electives, which meant options, which meant I had a choice in things. I could actually select some courses I wanted to take and that really started to change things.
But here in Kent, I got to tell you, I have fond memories not only of the place but mostly of my experiences, and now, I love education, love it. I love school, I don’t know what the hell happened to me but now I love school. I love all types of education, I love education on the street, I like places that are big-thinking, forward-thinking institutions of education.
And I like all kinds of school and I like all kinds of education, and I like trade schools, I like graduate schools, I like barber schools. I like adult education, I like adult diaper education, I like all kinds of education. I’ll tell you my favorite type of education though, what I really love and support, is the idea of some sort of free education. [Applause]
Because there was a lot of people out there who will never have the opportunity because of financial reasons to have the opportunity that I have and we have all here today and it comes down to one thing, that’s unfair. When it all comes down to it, things are either fair or unfair and there is usually very little in between.
[Michael Keaton:] Source: LYBIO.net
And so, I hope that happens. I’m going to refer to some of my notes here so bear with me. And I’m hoping they don’t blow away.
You know, I was lucky enough to come here and learn. I’m a curious person and I’m a big reader, but this is where, this place, this is what inspired me and it had its roots right here and I will always be grateful to this place because this was the place that helped shape me.
Not only toward what I wanted to do for a living but the person I wanted to be and what I became. And as you people know, a lot of your knowledge comes from the classroom but a lot of it comes from experiences you had while you were here, the friends you made and the people you met. Not just the literature I was exposed to and the art I was exposed to, but all these other things.
I will tell you a couple of stories. I never really had any money and I’d have to drop out of school, make a little money, and then come back to Kent to pay for it, so I don’t remember what happened but I showed up in one of these semesters and I didn’t have a place to stay because I wasn’t on a job and I was scrambling around and I ended up living in an attic, and it was a small attic and there was nothing in this attic.
And I shared it, I discovered the next day, with a guy, when I walked up to this attic, and I mean nothing in it, and the ceiling was right about here. Next door, it was separated by half of a wall, and there was a bed and maybe a chest of drawers or something and there was a guy about my age or a few years older, and that was his side. I had nothing. Somehow, and I don’t know where I found this mattress, I had a mattress on the floor, I had my trusty Stan Smiths and my little closet that was a hole in the wall with a bar across, I had all four of my shirts and one pair of pants hanging in there.
And I got to be really good friends with this guy. And I’d lay there at night and we’d talk, all the way across the side of the room and I would try to make him laugh. And I’ll tell you what impressed me about this guy, I think he lived in Akron or maybe he lived in Dayton, I can’t really remember, he was a few years older than me, maybe two years older than me, and he would leave on a Friday morning and he would go all the way home and he’d work all weekend. He’d have his last class at about 10 A.M. on a Friday and he’d come back late Sunday night and he went home to work on his dad’s roofing company.
Roofing work is really hard work and I was always really impressed with this guy and I’ll tell you something, it reminded me of how important hard work is. Because actually there’s no getting around it. I’m a hard worker, I always had a job, I always had a lot of jobs, and man, you’re looking at a guy that if I could have found my way around hard work, I would have.
But at some point, you just got to look hard work in the eye and say ‘You win’ because there ain’t no other way to do it. And I’ll tell you, probably, I would say most of you have a mother and a father who worked very hard to help get you here, or a friend or an uncle or somebody, and I hope you sure are grateful to them for helping you get through this. [Applause]
I’m going to tell you one more story, and then I’m going to start cutting to the chase of and moving things along because I’m really afraid it’s going to start raining. One day I walked by the Journalism Department where I had some of my greatest classes, you bet, this is one of the great universities for journalism, by the way. [Applause]
I was a big fan of the Kent Stater, I read it every day. I walked by the Journalism building in Taylor Hall I think it is and I walked right off the campus and I stuck out my thumb because I had to hitchhike everywhere I went and I hitchhiked down to Washington, D.C., to participate in an anti-war demonstration.
And on the way down, somewhere around Maryland I guess, I got picked up a second or third ride by a guy, roughly my age, in a pickup truck I think, I can’t really remember, I got in and we got to talking. There’s this Billy Currington song that says like ‘two old boys will do’. We talked about a lot of things and we were headed to the same place.
The difference was, he was in the National Guard, and I was going down to protest the war in Vietnam. On the way down, we talked about sports, cars, girls I’m sure, music, whatever two young guys talk about, and we got out and we both said it was nice talking to each other and stay safe, and I said thanks for the lift and when I got out, I thought we were going down for essentially the same thing, he was going down to try and keep the peace and I was going down to march for peace.
We weren’t that different really. And at the time, I couldn’t help think of the inherent drama in it, what a great story it was. I had taken my little notepad and my pen because I was going to write a story for my Journalism class and report about what I saw but I never did, I was more taken with the irony and even the comedy of what just happened to me with this guy in this truck on that day. And that was one of the experiences that I had here that really started to shape me.
[Michael Keaton:] Source: LYBIO.net
And so, I had to drop out of school one more time to make a living, and to afford to go back in school, and I had done a play here, and I was really getting into my writing. And I went back to Pittsburgh, I worked two jobs, I was doing a play at night, I was working in a night club at night and I’m not going to bore you with all the details, but I was saving every penny I could. And at that point, I thought it was time to make my move. Because I was feeling it. So I made my move to Los Angeles and I never had any intention of dropping out of school but I thought I should take my shot.
And that’s what I did, and I remember my sister Diane coming in and talking to me and saying are you sure about this or something like that, you feeling okay about this decision, and I remember saying to her I just never want to get older and look back and think I never tried. That I never gave it a shot. So I’m going to tell you this if you don’t already know it, there’s nothing I love more than people who try.
I coached just about every team my son played on and the kids I loved the most were the kids who tried. Not always the kids with the most talent, but the kids who tried.
And I would tell you this as well, you have to take risks. I am going to ask you to take risks whenever you can. Put your self on the line.
Don’t be afraid to look foolish. Make mistakes, take chances. It’s one of the best things you can do. And what that will lead to is self-discovery, and it will lead you back to your natural authentic self. And I really encourage you as you get older, to go back to who you were when you were a kid because that was the most authentic you that there has been.
Just always seek that authentic self, like when you were a little kid.
I guarantee you when you were three or two years old, when you were a toddler, you didn’t look at other toddlers and think what a stupid haircut. You never looked at them and said what kind of t-shirt is that? They don’t even look like real dinosaurs. There’s no judgment among little kids and that’s where we all should be headed. I am going to wrap this up here, thank you. [Applause]
Don’t ever live your false self, always live in your real self, because the absolute freedom of not worrying about what other people think is indescribable, and worth all the effort that you put into it, and one of the things that is going to happen to you as you try to make your way back to your authentic self is you’re going to face something called humility. It’s going to be one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to you in your life. You’re going to go through life at times thinking you’re all that, and you’re going to learn real quick you ain’t.
And humility is going to knock on your door one day and he’s going to say, on your knees, son. And it’s one of the best things that could ever happen to you. But don’t give up the fight to find your authentic self, and don’t quit.
I’m looking at all these faces out here and I’m thinking to myself, man I see a lot of different looks.
I’ve heard people talk about them and put them in the group and call them millennials and to me you all look like a bunch of individuals. You all look like people who don’t want to be categorized, who don’t want to be put in a group. And I’ve got a friend named John Mayer who’s a really good guy and a monster guitar player and a damn good writer and he’s got this song called “Waiting For The World To Change”. I hate that song.
Because I’m looking at it, you and your generation, and your little brothers and your little sisters and those kids down in Parkland, Florida, and I’m thinking to myself they ain’t waiting for anybody. Don’t you wait for anyone, you are the world, you are the change. [Applause]
I’m going to ask you to do me a favor. I’m going to ask you to be respectful, to respect yourself, always think of the other guy, as my mom used to say. Be thoughtful. Honor decency. And fellas, be a gentleman. Be generous. Be fair. Be courageous. Be yourself. Peace. [Applause]
Dr. Keaton, what great lessons in the classroom of life. And we believe in that very, very, much at Kent State University. We know that learning comes in all shapes and forms, and you’ve just shared one of the most powerful. We’d like to invite you back up and to present this plaque as our thank you for spending time with us and being here and welcome home.
[Michael Keaton:] Source: LYBIO.net
Thank you very much.
I’ve got one more thing to say and it will only take me a second, I’ve got two words that I want you all to remember, they’re very important and if I leave you with anything, I’m going to leave you with these two words. And those two words are
Okay Batman, it is time for Provost Diacon to present the doctoral degree candidates.
Kent State University
Michael Keaton Full Commencement Address At Kent State. I would tell you this as well, you have to take risks. I am going to ask you to take risks whenever you can. Put your self on the line. Complete Full Transcript, Dialogue, Remarks, Saying, Quotes, Words And Text To Michael Keaton Full Commencement Address At Kent State.