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Namita Bhasin – Artium Baccalaureus

May 24, 2009
Commencement Speech of May 16, '09
Commencement Speech of May 16, ’09

A milestone post for me, a milestone for my daughter, and a milestone for the family, yet words escape me. I guess one can get overwhelmed with the gush of thoughts and emotions. So, the best I can do is to pen down a short, open letter to her.


You make mom and I proud. It is a lot of personal adversity that you have overcome to get, not one, but a double major from one of the toughest academic institutions… and, in 4 years! You have done this with grace and without compromising any of your ideals and values. Contrary to popular belief, the proudest moments were not necessarily your acceptance to Berkeley, or seeing you on stage as the student speaker at the commencement. These were simply points on a continuum of how you have traversed this path so purposefully, yet elegantly. You were, and have remained strong-willed and clear in setting directions and goals for yourself. You are a delightful daughter to us and a great sister to Neal.

Congratulations again on your graduation, not just from Cal, but graduation to adulthood. You and your fellow grads are graduating in perhaps the most challenging economic conditions in generations. But take heart – you have many opportunities, a great life ahead and, we know you’ll make the most of it. This is just the beginning. We love you very much and are proud to be your parents.

Here’s to you Namita (and the class of 2009), in the prose by Dr. Seuss that we used to read together when you were 5, maybe 6…

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the [woman] who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

Dr. Seuss - Oh, the Places You'll Go!

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.


You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’ t
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both you elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Nanda permalink
    May 24, 2009 11:12 pm

    Beautiful and eloquently expressed thoughts. We are very proud of her achievements.

  2. May 25, 2009 11:36 am

    Congratulations! I’m sure I’m going to be able to say … and I knew her when! How exciting to be selected as a speaker for graduation. Sasha’s graduation just happened as well – so I know exactly how you are feeling, Ramneek. Proud but tearful too … to see your child embark on the next step in the journey.

    Please send my best wishes to Namita!

    Best regards,


  3. May 26, 2009 6:14 am

    Congratulations to Namita and the family! 🙂 We are all very proud of her and all of her accomplishments.

  4. Vivek permalink
    May 26, 2009 3:49 pm

    Congratulations to Namita .. and the proud parents! I am sure this is as good as it gets in terms of the rewards of parenting. Wish her success in life.

  5. Radhakrishna Hari permalink
    June 21, 2010 2:29 pm

    Congrats to Namita

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