Graduation speech column for The Temple News that never ran

At my desk in the newsroom of The Temple News after graduating and cleaned out May 21, 2008.
At my desk in the newsroom of The Temple News after graduating and cleaned out May 21, 2008.

In April I wrote a piece to run in the commentary section of The Temple News but never ran it. My last column was an open letter to the university’s President Ann Weaver Hart. Since last week I shared video of my commencement address, on which this column focuses, I thought I would share the column that never was.

By Christopher Wink | April 18, 2008 | The Temple News (never ran)

I am your commencement speaker.

A committee of professors and administrators have decided that I am serviceable enough to represent my 4,000 fellow graduates on Temple University May 22 commencement ceremony. I will speak to you, our families and our friends, more than 8,000 people in the Liacouras Center.

But, I, too, have sat through graduation speeches of little note and boring memory. I want this to be yours as well.

Continue reading Graduation speech column for The Temple News that never ran

My Commencement Address (Temple University: 5/22/08)

By Christopher Wink | May 22, 2008 | Temple University Commencement Address

Seventeen hours ago I got off a plane from South Dakota, having spent my last week as a Temple student working with members of the Lakota Nation. It was another lesson in community.

Temple University’s graduating Class of 2008, today, we are graduating together from a long series of such lessons. Indeed, we are not just graduating from a university, but an entire community, something I have learned with a wonderful intimacy through my tenure here.

As I have learned about community, I have learned of the true expansiveness of Temple. See, the neighborhoods of Philadelphia, too numerous for me to know in entirety, have taken on a richness and a vibrancy like I never before realized they could.

Continue reading My Commencement Address (Temple University: 5/22/08)

My Honors Thesis Web site: The Philadelphia Republican Party

Updated: My thesis has now moved to a subdomain here, as explained here.

CHECK OUT A (SEMI) COMPLETED WEB SITE I made for my year-long thesis project that I only finished now, having spent a couple months as a college graduate.

I graduated from Temple in May, with honors I might add, because of that thesis project on which I worked. Despite being a couple months removed from college, I only recently finished the final revisions offered to me by my paper’s adviser, the eminent Dr. Joseph McLaughlin.

Back in April, I announced I had the site running, but now have the final paper available. I hope to add some more features and supplemental info, but for now, it is a nice collection of the research and work I’ve done.

[www.phillypolitics.wordpress.com]

Academic honors during my Temple University career

Relevant academic honors

  • Honors Thesis, Two-Party Politics in Philadelphia, April 2008
  • Named among Top 100 young journalists in the country, UWire, May 2008
  • Commencement Speaker, Temple University’s 121st graduation, May 2008
  • First Place, Collegiate Keystone Press Award for Personality Profile, April 2008
  • Diamond Award, Temple University recognition for leadership, May 2008
  • Pi Sigma Alpha, political science honor society Delta Rho chapter, May 2008
  • Marks and Emma Kohn Memorial Award for excellence in social sciences, April 2008
  • Ted Von Ziekursch Scholarship for journalistic achievement, April 2008
  • Honors Department, Temple University entrant, July 2006
  • Diamond Award, Temple University recognition for student journalism, May 2006
  • Ralph Vigoda Collegiate Journalism Award, May 2006
  • First Place, Collegiate Keystone Press Award for Spot News, April 2006
  • Political Science Honors Department, Temple University entrant, April 2006

Bill’s Graduation Lessons (Newsweek submission: 6/9/08)

By Christopher Wink | June 9, 2008 | Newsweek submission

Bill Cosby told me I shouldn’t worry. No one was going to remember anything I said anyway.

In May, I graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia and was honored to address my peers and their families as our student commencement speaker. For my portion, I urged Temple graduates of 2008, in addition to those of the past and those yet to come, to stand by our obligation to leveraging our intellectual capital in the communities that surround the university’s Main Campus in central North Philadelphia.

Temple’s gift is that it is surrounded by neighborhoods that aren’t as near to any other university as large and as influential. I hope my fellow graduates and I remember and forever appreciate that, I said.

Cosby – the seminal 20th-century entertainment icon turned controversial race commentator – addressed my fellow graduates after I did.

“I told Wink,” Cosby said to nearly 10,000 new-alumni and family members. “Wink, don’t give that speech. Nobody’s going to remember a thing you said, Wink.”

He told me something similar before we went on.

“Nobody will even be listening,” he assured me.

Of course, despite what I might want to think, the Cos knew what he was saying.

Each May universities parade big name celebrities, politicians and intellectuals through their graduations to get attention, to display prestige and, perhaps, to make a meaningful experience a memorable day. But we mostly forget who spoke at graduations of the past. These speeches have become routine and predictable. I am not foolish enough to think my seven minutes were anything anyone will remember for very long, if anyone was listening at all. Graduations are full of children and grandparents, lots of people who are there for one face of thousands, not the speeches, not the pomp, not the circumstance. The words of this 22-year-old have likely already been completely forgotten by most.

Cosby’s address though was something different for my graduating class.

Bill Cosby was raised in Philadelphia and went to Temple. He is among our best known alumni and a member of our Board of Trustees. What’s more, rather than trot our celebrities or politicians, Cosby was the lone speaker at Temple’s commencements throughout the 1990s through 2003.

But he hadn’t spoken at a university-wide event since August 2004, when he welcomed the Class of 2008 – my class – by promising to be at our graduation four years later if we were there. In the last weeks of my college career, The Temple News, the university’s student newspaper, wrote editorials calling on Cosby to be true to his word. But his publicist didn’t call back, and Temple’s administration had “no official stance.”

Some said the relationship started to fracture after January 2004 allegations that he sexually assaulted a former Temple employee. Some said Cosby’s book tour that featured him critiquing elements of black America didn’t help.

But he showed up, and then he walked into the Liacouras Center – with me at his side – and it sounded like a rock concert – not too bad for a 70-year-old (July 12, 1937). Young faces of every color and background – the hallmark of the self-labeled ‘diversity university’ – dressed in black gowns, draped over each other to stick out digital cameras and cell phones. Bill Cosby and I, preceded and followed by university dignitaries, split the graduates down the middle of our college’s basketball court, thousands of mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles and sisters and brothers and cousins and friends applauding from their feet.

Temple’s graduations are not known to be reserved affairs.

“They weren’t cheering for you,” he would later tell me.

Of those pictures that so many screaming Temple graduates accidentally took of me when Cosby strode too quickly, the comedian had a similarly cutting remark that still makes me laugh.

“They’ll crop you out by tomorrow,” he promised me.

After I spoke, University President Ann Weaver Hart introduced Dr. William H. Cosby. The crowd again rang out, like we were at one of his comedy shows, not our own graduation.

“Thank God nobody has yet asked you to follow your dream,” Cosby said. “Because you never really slept that well so that you could dream.”

And we laughed.

“You have no clear idea what is forward,” he said of our futures. He gestured up to the families crowded on the second level of our basketball arena. “Only the people sitting up here have any idea where you should go and what you should be.”

And we cheered.

Temple is a big-name, professional research institution like many others in this country. In many ways, the college experience has merged into a single story. Leave home. Drink beer. Study. Frisbee. Study. Throw your cap in the air to the tune of the same speech. One from the biggest name a university can bring in, or the most sentimental story that can be told or the advice from some 22-year-old who is too young to know much of anything.

No one from Temple’s Class of 2008 will remember my speech, but I suspect they will remember Bill Cosby. I know I will.

As submitted to Newsweek magazine’s ‘My Turn’ column in June 2008.

Today I graduated from Temple University

TODAY I GRADUATED from Temple University.

Freakin’ scary.

See video of our university-wide graduation here, including my own commencement address, which I was honored to give (it begins a little further than three-quarters into the first Web cast video). Bill Cosby, a member of our Board of Trustees and one of our more famous alumni, addressed students – including a mention of my own speech – beginning at the second video.

See some photos taken by my sister here. Others to follow.

The Temple News: An open letter to President Ann Weaver Hart

My final column after four years writing for The Temple News:

An open letter to President Ann Weaver Hart

By Christopher Wink | May 12, 2008 | The Temple News

I am graduating. After four years on North Broad Street – two more than you – I have plenty I want to share with you. Space is limited, so forgive my suddenness.

Throw your students into the surrounding communities.

For 45 years, this university has tried to figure out how to trick middle-class students into studying amid one of this country’s densest collections of black people, many of them poor and uneducated. So we built walls and took publicity shots facing south. We closed North Park Avenue, tried to close 13th Street and turned inward.

So, each year, a portion of accepted students confuse Temple with shootings at the Norris Apartments and confuse Philadelphia with an abandoned row home at 20th and Diamond streets.

That’s backwards. Have Provost Lisa Staiano-Coico amend our new general education requirements to involve 10-credit hours of “community education.” The engineering students can take a class on the most efficient means of backfilling condemned buildings, architecture students can figure out what’s wrong with the North Philadelphia subway stop, and students of the social sciences can work with the nonprofits that are trying to help our neighbors.

Leverage our intellectual capital and market it as the most unique academic experience in the world.

Continue reading The Temple News: An open letter to President Ann Weaver Hart

My post-graduate plans resolved… for now

Update: Read a review of my PLCA internship experience here.

IT WAS EARLY MARCH that I applied for a summer internship covering the Harrisburg, Pa. statehouse for a handful of urban dailies.

The internship is with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association*, the oldest continuously operating journalism society in the country.

Well, after an interview in Harrisburg three weeks ago, I am happy to report that I was offered the gig on Monday and accepted it yesterday.

It is a 12-week program paying $500 a week. Interns spend two- or three-week rotations writing for The Philadelphia Inquirer (350,000 circulation) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (214,000 circulation) Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa., 109,000 circulation)) and The Patriot-News in Harrisburg.

It is an opportunity to cover and learn a great deal about the state government, while not facing the permanence I am not convinced I should undertake at my young age and in my relatively privileged state. So, come September I will be free to do some traveling, after proving to a potential employer that I was able to get a position right after graduation.

Indeed, this has been a week of big announcements, starting with my being named Temple’s commencement speaker here in the last week of my college career.

*Amended 9/6/08 4:32 P.M.