1 optical disc(s) (DVD)
Tara Gu, a senior from Portland, OR, graduated with a major in Public Policy
and a minor in Human Biology. During her time at Stanford, she has anchored
herself at the intersection of business, nonprofits, philanthropy, and
government and has pondered how these institutions can work together to
advance social change. Tara has been privileged to study at Bing Stanford in
Washington and the BOSP Cape Town program; explore issues in health,
housing, education, and financial regulation; dabble in social
entrepreneurship and improv; and serve as a Resident Assistant in the
largest undergraduate residence on campus.
Scope and Content Note
Following is the prepared text of the 2012 Baccalaureate student speech by
Tara Gu, senior graduating with a major in public policy and a minor in
April 12, 2012, Stanford student Facebook status: "So I'm walking between the
library and Hoover Tower when Oprah flies by me on a golf cart with an
armada of fans pursuing her on bike as her bodyguard is yelling into his
wrist mic. #Stanfordlife."
In typical #Stanfordlife fashion, I've had the privilege to meet
extraordinary individuals on this campus over the past four years. But of
all the people I've met, the most important person I've met is me. I've
become closer to knowing who I am. By who I am, I mean what I care about; my
values, priorities, and beliefs; whether I can even articulate those values;
and how well I can live up to those beliefs.
Our society increasingly obsesses over metrics, or the idea of measuring
quantifiable results of our actions. We measure percent gain in shareholding
value, increase in student performance on standardized testing, and net
revenue per physician. But in trumpeting results, we have sometimes forsaken
the process. Business ethics have deteriorated. Some teachers have taught to
the test. Patient-physician relationships have strained. In emphasizing
metrics, we equate achievement with scoring higher on the measurable things
that we have identified, and we further reinforce these specified metrics.
This is problematic for two reasons: 1) We define results only as measurable
things and neglect the immeasurable; 2) How do we know that we are measuring
the right thing?
For most of us, throughout our lives, our metric of achievement has been
grounded in what we do. What we do arguably granted us admission to
Stanford, and it has been the focus of attention since we were little. At
age 5, it was, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" And at age 22, it
is, "What are you going to do next year?" Having an answer to these
questions elicits "oohs" and "ahhs," as if having a plan for achievement is
half the achievement. We are asked about the result that we want, but we are
rarely asked to reflect upon the process. By process, I mean the question of
who we want to be. Who do you want to be when you grow up? Who do you want
to be next year? These are far more difficult questions to answer, and yet
most of us spend less time thinking about them.
In April of this year, Newark's mayor and our Commencement speaker, Cory
Booker, ran into a burning house and carried a neighbor through smoky
stairwells and falling flames. Why were we so impressed with Mayor Booker's
actions that we tweeted #Stanfordcommencementspeaker #likeaboss? Were we
drawn to the result of his Dark Knight heroics, his achievement of saving
someone's life? Or did we admire what his actions said about who he is, his
ability to live up to his values of public service?
Graduation marks a result. That coveted 8-by-11-inch piece of paper will
grant us another neat line of size 10 font to add to our resumes. But those
pretty calligraphy letters do not reveal the process. They do not say
anything about the philosophical late night hallway conversations, the
chicken tenders from Axe and Palm, or the saddening loss of two members from
our community this year.
Results are measurable but not memorable. What is memorable is not
measurable. What is measurable is not memorable.
Scope and Content Note
The 2012 speaker was Sister Joan Chittister; student speaker was Tara Gu.
Sister Joan Chittister, an international lecturer and author of more than 45
books, has been given 10 Catholic Press Association awards for her writing.
One of her recent books, Uncommon Gratitude: Alleluia for All That Is,
wasco-authored with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. Her
current book is Following the Path: The Search for a Life of Passion,
Purpose, and Joy. She writes a regular column for the National Catholic
Reporter newspaper and for Huffingtonpost.com.