Alexandra Greenspan

Graduation Throwback

Throwback Thursday time. This month last year, I was looking forward to turning twenty-one, looking forward to the upcoming events of senior year, looking forward to swaggin’ it up at career fairs (as the kids do these days). And now I am an APM at Google, four weeks into the first career of the rest of my life.

So I wanted to remind myself why I am where I am today, and make sure that I keep the message I relayed in my CS graduation speech to heart: I came to Berkeley and studied computer science in order to build the future. To those of you starting out on new career paths as well, never sell yourself or your abilities short. And to those of you who, like me one year ago, have the rest of senior year to look forward to — enjoy it. Before you know it you’ll be putting on that cap and gown.

Full text below

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, friends and family. I want to first give my thanks to my own family, as well as all the moms and dads, brothers and sisters, and guardians out there who helped us through these four years. Your support made this possible. And to my fellow graduates, take a breath of fresh air. We did it — we made it to the real world with minimal scarring. But that’s nothing to worry about — we’re all proud to bleed blue and gold.

We’re also well-equipped to deal with anything that lies ahead. We powered through the 61 series. We survived the hectic halls of career fairs. Some of us focused on theory, some on application, and some on a bit of both.

We spent countless nights without sleep on projects and hackathons. We formed lifelong friendships in the labs of Soda Hall. Some of us focused on research, some on industry, and some on a bit of both.

We also felt downtrodden and defeated at times, unable to quell the fears that we weren’t good enough, that we weren’t smart enough. I know that the semesters certainly took their toll on me. Initially I felt the need to carry this burden alone, worry about my abilities and future possibilities on my own. But opening up to people made me realize that even the most collected of my peers has their own fears. When we leaned on each other, when we collaborated, worked together, and taught each other, we became a stronger community.

From undergraduate TAs to peer advisers to Piazza heroes to those we went to when our midterms didn’t go as hoped, this is when the friendships we found mattered most. Your network will always be your lifeline — these golden bears are the bare necessities to survival. When you leave here today, make sure not to leave these friendships behind. Or if you’re worried about that, just make another kind of social networking app to keep up with them.

On that note, I’d also like to add something important I’ve learned in my four years here at Cal. Computer science is not just programming. It’s not even something you necessarily need a computer for. It’s a problem-solving process, a way of thinking.

CS is a tool that will help you make a difference in any field. We didn’t come to Berkeley and study computer science in order to build the next big app. We came to Berkeley and studied computer science in order to build the future.

We each have a vision, and the tools we’ve gained can help us make that possible anywhere. We now have the knowledge to code, to deploy, to implement algorithms, but we must keep learning. Each of us is capable of making a difference, as long as we are determined to do so. Our accomplishments in CS at Cal are only the beginning.

So to this graduating class of 2015, there’s only one fitting thing to say on the start of our newest journey: Hello world, and go bears!