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WGU Commencement Address from Jamie Casap
WGU Commencement Address from Jamie Casap
Western Governors University
<p>Jamie Casap, Google's Education Evangelist, delivered the WGU Commencement Address at WGU's 72nd Commencement. This is a recording from the master's commencement.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>I'm pleased to introduce Jaime Casap, our commencement speaker today. Jaime Casap is the Chief Education Evangelist at Google. Jaime evangelizes the potential of digitalization as an enabling capability in pursuit of promoting inquiry based learning models. Jaime collaborates with school systems, educational organizations, and leaders focused on building innovation into our education policies and practices. </p> <p>In addition to his role as Google, Jaime serves as an advisor to dozens of organizations focused on learning, skill development, and the future of work. Jaime helped launch the Phoenix Coding Academy, a public high school in Phoenix, Arizona, focused on computer science as part of an inquiry based learning model. He teaches a tenth grade communication class at the school. He is also guest lectures at Arizona State University. He speaks on education, digitalization, innovation, Generation Z, and the future of work at events around the world. Please help me welcome Mr. Jaime Casap to the lectern. [Applause] </p> <p>Jaime Casap: All right, how exciting is this? Okay, before I officially start, I've got to share a story with you that's been bugging me for a couple of days. </p> <p>So, a couple nights ago, I am reading a story to my four year old. And we've been reading out of this big animal book. You know, this giant book that we've been reading for months. And just complete coincidence, we were reading about owls. </p> <p>And so we're reading about the great eagle owl, we're reading about the common barn owl, the snowy owl, all of these like it's got hundreds of these different types of owls. And at the end of this reading session I said to her, "Hey, I'm going to the LA area " I can't say Anaheim because she knows Disneyland is in Anaheim, and she won't [laughter] and I said, "I'm going in the LA area to speak to the graduates from that college I was telling you about. And they are known as night owls." </p> <p>And she looked at me a little confused. And I thought, "Oh, I'm going to have to explain to her what a night owl is." But she said, "Pappi, all owls are night owls. [Laughter] That's when they're active, that's when they hunt. We just read about it." [Laughter] So I'm going to have to take classes myself so I can keep up with her. </p> <p>All right, anyway, I want to thank faculty, staff, chancellor, provost, the president, everyone, for having me here today. Everyone's been great, everyone's been very welcoming, to come here and share a couple thoughts with you. But first, before I get started, I want to take a moment to congratulate you, the graduates today, for this enormous milestone. It's a remarkable accomplishment, and one that you should all be proud of. Congratulations. [Applause] Congratulations night owls, or as my daughter would say, "just owls". </p> <p>I also want to congratulation the families present here today, and those who couldn't make it, but are thinking about you guys right now at this very moment. You should be proud of your students, but you should also be proud of yourselves. Your commitment, and in many cases, your sacrifices, are the reasons why we have these distinguished graduates in front of us here today. So congratulations to the families of night owls. [Applause] </p> <p>All right, so when I was asked to come speak here today, I was obviously honored, and I was also very excited. This is always an exciting thing to come do. I was excited, however, until a guy by the name of Robert F. Smith gave a commencement speech that not only ruined the lives of all commencement speakers this session, but possibly for the rest of time. </p> <p>As you know, he promised to pay off the student debt of all the graduates in the auditorium [cheers and applause] [laughter] yeah, I just paid off my 1995 Chevy Celebrity car, that's not gonna happen. [Laughter] Now, I would feel bad, but I don't feel that terrible because I know that Western Governors' tuition is substantially lower than any other school. Yeah, and more importantly, they structured their education programs in exciting and enriching ways where I think you're even getting a better education. </p> <p>Now, that's just not me saying that here to pander to the folks sitting up here on the stage. I actually have evidence. And I want to share an email I received on Tuesday from a fellow Googler, who is out here sitting out here right now. This is a real email I got on Tuesday. </p> <p>"Hi, Jaime, we haven't met, but I saw you're speaking at my graduation in Anaheim on Saturday. I've been at Google for 14 years in engineering, and have always wanted a master's in security. I was accepted into a number of programs, but WGU has a great program that was manageable, and affordable. I could do the program while working full time, and I learned so much. It's all about how much of yourself you put into the program, not about how much it costs." I want to repeat that. "It's all about how much you put yourself into the program, not about how much it costs." Somebody needs to sign her up for an ad because that was absolutely beautiful. [Laughter] </p> <p>And as I look out, and listening to those stats of who we have in the room, and I see first generation students, and I see minority students, and I see students coming from low income families, or living in low income families, I see students who have poured themselves into their programs. In other words, I see me. I believe education disrupts poverty. I believe education changes families' destinies. [Applause] </p> <p>But, I believe those things because that's what education did for me. I am a first generation American, born, raised in Hell's Kitchen, New York. New Yorkers in the room? [Cheers] Ya! Now I'm not talking about the Hell's Kitchen you find today with all the great condos and restaurants. I'm talking about the Hell's Kitchen from the '70s and '80s, when it was really Hell's Kitchen. </p> <p>I grew up with a single mother on welfare and food stamps. I grew up watching friends that I've known since elementary school, cycle in and out of prison, and I wanted none of that. And education was what I saw as my escape route. It wasn't easy. I graduated from college, and I even obtained my master's degree in public policy from Arizona State University in Phoenix, where I live today. </p> <p>Now education is the reason I stand in front of you, and it's the reason I've been able to live the life that I've been able to live. But more importantly, it's the reason why my children have had the opportunities that they've had. That's the impact that education has. It goes on for generations and generations and generations. </p> <p>And I share this with you because this is my life's work. I believe that the street kid hoodlum like me can accomplish everything that I've been able to accomplish, that I know that there are millions and millions of other students just like me who can accomplish the same thing. </p> <p>So as I stand here, I want to share three questions with you. Questions that I wish someone asked me when I was sitting where you are today, questions that we've been hearing our whole lives, all of us have heard this question: What do you want to be when you grow up? Right, you've heard that question? Well, we need to stop asking that question. It's not the right question. It's a question that used to make sense in the olden days, like 1994 [laughter] when change happened much slower. </p> <p>Today we know that jobs will continue to evolve, and continue to change. We know that we'll be working on things that we can't even imagine, using technology that we haven't even invented yet. Because change does happen slowly, but then it happens suddenly, and we stand today in the world of suddenly. </p> <p>"What do you want to be when you grow up?" is an impossible question to answer today, and I think it's the wrong question to ask. So I want to ask you a different question. I want to ask you this: What problem do you want to solve? What's the problem that bugs you, the problem that spins in your head? And I mean any problem. It could be climate change, but it could also be how to make better rap videos, it doesn't matter, it's the problem that you want to solve, that you're passionate about. </p> <p>The second question I want to ask you is this: How do you want to solve that problem? You, personally. How do you take the skills, the abilities that you've learned here, and the passions and gifts that are inside you, to solve that problem that you care about? And then the third question is related to where you find yourself sitting today, a question that obviously your presence here suggests you know the value of: What do you need to keep learning to solve that problem? What are the skills and abilities that you need to keep mastering? What is the strategy for doing that?</p> <p>By the way, Daniel Pink, in his book, "Drive", talked about what motivates all of us as human beings, and it's the same three things. I've just taken that to another level. Purpose what problem do you want to solve? Autonomy how do you want to solve it? And Mastery what do you need to solve that problem? Those are the questions that I want you to think about. You don't have to have the answers, I just want you to think about them. And then there's one more thing before I go, that I want you to think about. I want you to think about a frame, I want you to think about a belief that you hold in absolute truth, so much so that you'd tattoo it on your body if you could. </p> <p>I want to show you something. You see this here? This is Yoda. And Yoda has been sitting on my desk like that for the past 25 years. Everywhere I've worked, every project I've been on, it's been sitting there staring back at me. I was 12 years old in 1980, when I saw "The Empire Strikes Back" in a movie theater. And it was on that day that I heard the most profound thing that I'd ever hear in my life. And I can't believe I'm about to admit this in front of all of you, but you know, we're here in Anaheim, walking distance from Star Wars Park, formerly known as Disneyland. [Laughter] So it's just fate. </p> <p>And while everyone was focused on the big revelation that Darth Vader was Luke's father I'm sorry, I should've said "spoiler alert" [laughter] that's not what I focused on. I focused on what this puppet said. When Yoda said, "No, try not. Do or do not, there is no try." That's right, I've structured my entire life on what a puppet said in a movie when I was 12 years old. [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>But it's a thought that's been in my head every single day since I've hear that. And over time I realized that we only use that word "try" is when we're scared, when we're scared to fail, when we think we just might fail.</p> <p>When I was invited here, I didn't say, "Thank you for the invitation, I'll try to make it." The pilot on the airplane last night didn't come on the intercom and say, "Ladies and gentlemen, we're landing in the airport, I'm going to try to land this thing." [Laughter] </p> <p>Only when we are scared of failure do we use words like "try." "I'll try to start my business. I'll try to get that job I've always wanted. I will try to be creative." Well, I want you to stop using that word. Don't use the word "try." Find a problem you want to solve, determine how you want to solve it, and then go solve it, period. And if you don't do it on the first attempt, figure out what you need to learn or master, and then do it on the second attempt. Wash, rinse, repeat. </p> <p>It's clear you have the capability to do this. It's clear that you don't let excuses and obstacles stand in your way, otherwise you wouldn't be sitting here. [Applause] Anyway, I don't want to spend all day standing here, you guys have to go celebrate this incredible milestone. So go out, take that problem you're passionate about, take it on with all you've got, and solve it. Don't try, do. Thank you guys very much for having me. [Applause] </p>
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