I was just contacted by a reporter who was doing a story on Commencement addresses and she wondered if I was giving one somewhere this spring. I had to tell her that, allowing for a last minute call from Yale, I hadn’t been asked. However if I had been asked, this is what I would have said: “Class of 2006… You have just gotten a degree in something. (Never overlook the obvious.) And now you face some challenges. No, not the challenge of getting a job and rising as fast as you can to get that nice place in the suburbs. That’s passee, and for that matter, not very sustainable anymore… The challenge you face in the year 2006, the way I see it, is how to reverse: rapidly increasing global warming, kids sleeping on inner city streets in this country and starving to death in the Third World, millions of people worldwide who have no homes or tremendously substandard housing, the threat of nuclear Holocaust, and rapidly vanishing plant and animal species… And you thought finals were hard! … So you can take your sheep skin, as short on sheep as we’re getting these days, and myopically move out into the work force and make as much as you can for yourself. Or you can do what a University of Dayton student recently did. On a research trip to UD, I learned he took his Engineering Major, not to the glamorous, high-tech doors of NASA to help in wasting billions of dollars flying to Mars. But rather, he took his engineering smarts to rural Guatemala to work at a decidedly more low-tech job at a whole lot less pay. Working with the non-profit, humanitarian aid agency Ethos Engineering, this young man traveled the poverty stricken countryside in Guatemala helping rural villagers install vented, ceramic ovens. This was a tremendous improvement over the open cooking fires in the homes, which would often cause severe burns to young children and respiratory problems for practically everyone else… So many of you graduates now have the smarts to help all sorts of humanitarian aid efforts like this; or the smarts to help develop even better clean, renewable solar or wind technology; or the smarts to enter the social services, or the Peace Corps, or Ameri Corps, etc., to better the world for the poor and marginalized… You indeed have a choice as you head out from here into the world this day: You can take your smarts and make a difference for, well, yourself. Which will mean the high paying job, the Lexus with Mapquest, and the summer house at Martha’s Vineyard… Or you can take your smarts and make a difference for, well, someone else. Which will mean way less money, an old Volkswagon without Mapquest (or maybe even air conditioning) and, for some, a rural hut in Guatemala… Now without trying to sway your decision, I do have to say: It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist at NASA to figure out which choice is more needed in our world these precarious days… God bless you. And may God guide your decision.