Posted by Diana Martnelli on May 13, 2019
People often use the words “graduation” and “commencement” interchangeably, and indeed they can be synonymous.  However,  “commencement” has a more important primary meaning: “the act of beginning.” In this speech by Oprah Winfrey, she imparts humor and wisdom to the Harvard Class of 2013. 


PRESIDING TODAY IS: E-Club President Diana Martinelli

bellDing! We’re now in session.

Welcome all – Visitors, fellow Rotarians and guests alike to this E-Club program!


Four-Way Test

At the beginning of each meeting we remind ourselves of the The Four-Way Test.  Therefore, please remember to ask yourself always . . .

Of the things we think, say or do:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Reflective Moments

“Nobody else is paying as much attention to your failures as you are…. To everyone else, it’s just a blip on the radar screen, so just move on.”
     --Jerry Zucher Commencement Speech at University of Wisconsin Madison, 2003
“You can Google for an answer. You can Google for a mate. You can Google for a career. But you can’t Google to find what’s in your heart—the passion that lifts you skyward.”
     --Joe Plumeri Graduation Speech at William & Mary College 2011


Light Moments 

"In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson."
     --Tom Bodett  (from
A young man obtained a job at a local supermarket and reported for his first day of work. The manager greeted him with a warm handshake and smile, then gave him a broom and said, “your first task will be to sweep the store.”  “But I’m a college graduate!” the young man said indignantly. “Oh, I’m sorry: I didn’t know that,” said the manager. “Hand me the broom and I’ll show you how.”  (from



Graduation and Commencement: the end and the beginning

As a college educator, each May and December is a special time on campus: that of graduation and commencement.  People often use the words “graduation” and “commencement” interchangeably, and indeed they can be synonymous. Both, according to, can mean “the ceremony of conferring degrees or diplomas, as at a college or school.” However,  “commencement” has a more important primary meaning: “the act of beginning.” While we tend to think of graduations as the end of formal educational levels, commencement means the start of life afterward.
At our recent college ceremony at WVU, I watched the students just before and as they crossed the stage. Looks of anticipation, joy, relief, pride, apprehension—so much emotion portrayed in so many youthful faces.  A happy occasion without doubt, but with a twinge of bittersweet, as they prepared to leave friends and the place of such significant growth and learning. These ceremonies can be bittersweet for faculty too, as we know we’ll not see most of them again. (Although, happily, we’ll at least stay informed of some through social media.)
Although I have seen and heard many fine commencement speakers over the years (my first graduated students are now the age I was when I watched them walk across the stage), the address Oprah Winfrey delivered to the Harvard Class of 2013 touches me with its humanity and calls for purpose. It reminds me of Rotarians’ work the world over, and thus, during this special time of year, it seemed fitting to share it here. (I suggest you begin at about 2:35.) And to all of the 2019 graduates, may you live well and be happy.
Photo credit: -, CC BY 2.0,
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