2013 Baccalaureate Celebration - David Schroeder, Faculty Speaker

[Begin by playing a short harmonica solo…]

Some people say that actions speak louder than words. Today, my action is music. After my speech, I’ll let you decide which is louder.

If I can leave you with any pearls of wisdom today, I can only speak from my own experiences. My father, who truly cared about me, always accused me of having blind faith, a trait of mine that he found undesirable, and would lead me down a dark path of no return. Over the years many other people said I’d never succeed in music, as they didn’t trust my blind faith either. This blind faith led me from a rural community in Iowa to New York City with pit stops along the way in search of a community of like-minded people who would nurture my aspirations rather than squelch them. In the end, the community that I searched for, I found at New York University. As a student here, not knowing that someday I would actually become the Director of Jazz Studies, I simply immersed myself in our community in preparation for opportunities where my blind faith could lead me even further.

I heard Bill Clinton state that talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. Through your NYU education and mine, we now stand on the shoulders of Giants who have given us all the tools we will need to take action for ourselves. But be beware; the fruits of action require attention. Use your education to inspire, to create, to explore, and most important, to become. For my students who have studies the process of improvisation over the past four years, you will definitely need to tap into these skills in order to put your own blind faith into action.

Years ago, I discovered a quote from another president, Calvin Coolidge that empowered me to take this action in my own life.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

After reflecting on this quote for years, I now realize that Coolidge’s persistence is actually my blind faith.

In closing; by conferring your academic degrees today, you may now considered yourselves certified smart people, but always remember to listen closely to other’s opinions, but judge for yourself, broaden your world view, but be aware that your family’s views are also important, and above all, be kind and generous to everyone you meet.