Convocation Addresses -- Smith, Duke, Greene Raine, Marra

June 10, 2004, vol. 30, no. 4

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Lynn Smith

The original mind is a passionate mind.

In these brief remarks I am going to say why you should celebrate not only your achievement, but also your wisdom in having chosen to spend several years of your life in a university.

A case can be made that you have invested wisely in terms of your prospective lifetime earnings, and in terms of the prosperity of this province. But I am not here to make that case today. Instead, I congratulate you on your astute decision to spend some time in an environment whose raison d'être is the formulation, advancement and careful investigation of ideas and their consequences.

In the introduction to her book, Original Minds, Eleanor Wachtel, the Canadian writer and broadcaster, described some common characteristics of the people whom she had interviewed for the series. She said that an original mind is above all a passionate mind, and that:
“They all share the drive and commitment of the perpetually curious - a quality also found in many of the best writers of fiction. They have an appetite for the world and for the present moment, and this openness is combined with discipline, with conviction, and with a readiness to take risks.”

See full text at Lynn Smith

Daryl Duke

Two films changed my life forever.

The knowledge I wanted somehow to spend my life in film began at a very young age.

Two very magical and remarkable films came into my life and changed it forever.

The first was French director Marcel Carne's Les Enfants Du Paradis. Made in France with great difficulty during the Nazi occupation, Les Enfants somehow got to a movie theatre here in Vancouver in the late 1940s. It starredthe great French actor, Jean Louis Barault, and the ever-tempting beautiful actress, Arletty. When I emerged on to Granville Street after the movie was finished, I was in a complete dream.

The second film which put its stamp upon me was a feature length documentary called Fires Were Started by the British documentary director, Humphrey Jennings. The film chronicled the life of a fire crew during the London Blitz.

Its structure, emotion, the fact that the makers of the film had the courage to give one of its characters a poem by John Donne to recite after the death of one of the crew members, all came together to make a very strong effect upon me.

See full text at Daryl Duke

Nancy Greene Raine

Family relationships are what really count.

When you started at SFU you set goals, and now you've earned your degree through hard work and perseverance.

Now you are moving on, to a career or to further study, and so this is a time when you have to take stock and set new goals.

Goal-setting is something that both athletes and business people do on an on-going basis. It's really important to have goals in your life. There's an old saying, “If you don't know where you are going, how will you know if you get there?” Goals are easy in sports. My goal was to win a gold medal in the Olympics, and guess what? I found out that when you do win, you just have to set new goals.

Perhaps it's more valuable to ask yourself: What is success? Is it wealth? Is it fame? Or power? These are the measures that society often uses to judge people. What do you want out of life? From my perspective today, I can tell you that the real measure of success is in the relationships you build with your family, your friends and your community. In today's highly competitive business world the demands on your time will be unrelenting - but be careful. It really is important to balance your work and your family time. In the end, family relationships are what really count.

And it's important to live your life as you go through it, not to save it all up for when you retire. Learn to enjoy the simple pleasures of life: a walk in the countryside or a hike in the mountains, especially in our beautiful province.

See full text at Nancy Greene Raine

Marco Marra

Be aggressive in seeking opportunities.

On several occasions I have been extremely privileged to have the mentorship of outstanding and passionate scientists.

One is neither too old to benefit from mentorship and opportunity nor too young to provide these valuable items. I am absolutely convinced that the mentorship and the opportunities provided to me have been the single most valuable ingredients in helping me realize my career goals. I believe these factors will be of critical importance in whatever you choose to pursue and so I offer the following suggestions.

Be aggressive in seeking out opportunities and recognize that often the most important opportunities are cloaked in adversity. As such they may be difficult to recognize at first. Often, recognizing them requires fresh perspective and perspective is something that the very best of mentors can provide.

In seeking opportunity, be aware that you can provide opportunity to others. Your willingness to work with others and help them attain their goals will generally enhance the level of achievement around you and has the potential to transform mediocrity into excellence.

This transformation in turn, will yield results that will transcend what you can achieve individually. Seek out world class thinkers who can and will provide mentorship. You have encountered within the university environment numerous examples of such individuals and throughout life will encounter many more. Aspire to attain their level. In seeking mentors remember that you yourself can become a mentor.

See full text at Marco Marra

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