My alma mater did not disappoint this year in Commencement firepower, either in star quality or embracing failure message featuring, Oprah as the main speaker (thank Mom). The diversity and extent of Oprah’s success seems to have had few bounds, but what she focused on was failure. She recounted the flop of the “Oprah Winfrey Network” and the impact on her life…

  • It doesn’t matter how far you might rise, at some point you are bound to stumble," she said. "Because if you’re constantly doing what we do, raising the bar. If you’re constantly pushing yourself higher, higher, the law of averages, not to mention The Myth of Icarus, predicts that you will at some point fall. And when you do, I want you to know this, remember this: There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us into another direction. It’s okay to feel bad for a little while, Give yourself time to mourn what you think you may have lost. But then, here’s the key: Learn from every mistake because every experience, encounter, and particularly your mistakes, are there to teach you and force you into being more of who you are…When you inevitably stumble and you find yourself stuck in a hole, that is the story that will get you out. What is your true calling?…What is your purpose?”

But Oprah is all about sharing the stories of others and this day she shared that of Michael Stalzenberg, a quadruple amputee from a virus, who went on to build a support charity. She described…

  • “When Michael was only 8 years old, Michael nearly died from a bacterial infection that cost him both of his hands and both of his feet…But in losing who he once was, Michael discovered who he wanted to be. He refused to sit in that wheelchair all day and feel sorry for himself. And so with prosthetics, he learned to walk and run and play again…And when this 13 year old man was asked about his fellow amputees (victims of the Boston Marathon bombing that he was raising money for), he said this, ‘First they will be sad. They’re losing something they will never get back. And that’s scary. I was scared. But, they’ll be okay…they just don’t know that yet.’”

Despite being a biggish reunion (35), I couldn’t make the event, but good friends Phil Stern, Rob Edwards and Steve Keeler (see below) made a grand showing for the Class of ’83.

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