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Today Star Trek’s original Kirk returned to his alma mater McGill University in Montreal, Canada to receive an honorary doctorate and to deliver the convocation address where he advised the new graduates to take risks and not be afraid of of making an ass" of themselves, noting it had worked for him. Watch the video below.
Dr. Shatner adresses McGill University Graduates
Full text of speech:
Moi, je parle français, mais pas aujourd’hui. Thank you everybody, thank you, too numerous to mention.
This was an easy degree to get. They just ask you, you say ‘Yes’ and you get a degree, thank you very much.
I’m honoured and grateful, but it wasn’t quite so easy getting my Bachelor degree of Commerce from McGill. I had quite a struggle, actually. First getting into McGill, it being such a prestigious university. My academics weren’t all that good coming out of West Hill High School, which is now defunct. I may have killed it, yes it’s true.
The only vivid memory I have of West Hill High School was corporal punishment, where the teachers whipped you with a rubber strap on your open palm for something you’ve done requiring punishment. Like coming late for classes, which I did. Being rambunctious within the classroom, which I did. Or even burning the principal’s car, which somebody else did and I deny it.
The only thing that remains more vivid than anything else was that we won city championships. We became a dynasty. We won several football championships, and I was really the best player. On the second team. That’s the story of my life.
When I came to McGill I earnestly thought that I would be the best football player on the second team of the freshman class. After all, I weighed 160 pounds and I could run the 100-yard dash in something like 14 seconds. Slow but sure – the story of my life.
Sadly I didn’t make the freshman football team. Somebody punched me in the stomach, and somebody else stepped on my head, and you can imagine I didn’t do well with the breakfast I’d eaten a little earlier, making my first day my last day.
It was then that I discovered drama. Things would have been much easier at university if I hadn’t played football and had joined the drama club right away, but easier is not my way – the story of my life.
I had been active in amateur theatricals for several years before that on radio and on stage, with television yet to be invented. That’s how far back I go, folks. When I came to McGill, I followed those interests and became at some point president of the radio club and a creative force in the Red and White Revue, performing university musicals.
It was thorough creating those musicals that I got my university education. In the student building, a couple of blocks from the present student union, in the basement, under the stairs, the Red and White Revue had their offices. The offices consisted of a desk, a chair and a sofa. I made better use of the sofa than the desk. That’s a whole other education that I received.
My point is that my academic life at McGill, where I was working on a Bachelor of Commerce degree, and all those accounting, economics and mathematics classes, none of which I attended, because I was too busy trying to clean the sofa at the Red and White Revue office.
In those days there were very few vacuum cleaners and spray cleaners and it was all done by hand. That’s another part of my university education. But what this did teach me was not only cleanliness but hard work. Running around the desk at the Red and White Revue office was hard work. I felt the sweat on my face, running around the desk.
It taught me that if you want to get something done, you have to get up early in the morning. When asked what my secret to being a success is, my answer has always been, ‘Get up earlier in the morning. There’s nothing you can’t accomplish when standing on two feet. When you’re lying down, all you accomplish is some REM sleep and working out your dream life.
When I graduated, which I did just barely in the fall after I had to make up a half course in math, which I had failed — I got my degree in September — I landed my first professional job in a small acting company in Montreal on Mount Royal. The bothersome thing was that I got the job as an assistant manager by telling them I got my bachelor’s degree from McGill, and that I was adept at accounting and banking. This was the only other lie I ever told – the first one being that I hadn’t set fire to the principal’s car.
It wasn’t long before they discovered two things. I had no accounting skills whatsoever — my math skills were really bad — and that I was a good actor. My talents didn’t lie in the field of accounting. My father, who paid for my education, was not amused, but my talents lay in trying to be funny and entertaining people, and although I didn’t study that per se — that’s Latin, by the way — I did get my education, complete, whole and useful at McGill.
I got it my own way and I urge you all to get it your way.
The road of life isn’t linear. It isn’t Sherbrooke St. It’s more like Côte des Neiges. It’s a country route, dusty and dirty, with soft shoulders and high banks. Don’t be afraid of taking chances, of striking out on paths that are untrod. Don’t be afraid of failing. Don’t be afraid of making an ass of yourself.
I do it all the time, and look what I got.
(via National Post)