a grumpy send off…

The return of Humpday Grumpday blog posts.

This last Saturday was MIT’s SpringFest concert, which saw me moving and shaking from 6am-230am, and overall, the show went nice and smooth, with all the work and worry prior paying off handsomely day of show.  My committee did a splendid job, and the artists were energetic and nice.

Capital Cities+Flosstradamus

The next day, I was slated to give the Keynote… chat… I’ll call it… at Northeastern’s CSDA End of Year Banquet, which I was invited to by Hayley Keene, who interned in our office this year here at MIT.  Now, my invitation was ironic, and I didn’t believe her at first, primarily because she said that their theme was Pharrell’s “Happy.”

If you know me and my twitter account, you know that I am typically the Grumpy Cat of my office and the T.

This meeting… this email… this T rider…

So, it’s ironic that they asked grumpy old polar bear me to deliver a talk on Happy, but talk I did, although I was ridiculously tired, which is fine.  I even tucked my shirt in for them!  Big things!

So, here is the Prezi I brought with me, and here are some of the points I made to these student affairs graduate students, both first and graduating second years.

Yeah, I still can’t get over that I was asked to keynote something, so I felt I needed a title that exuded confidence.

Thankfully, I have friends like @JasonRobert who create memes like #SADoge to pull content from for meaningful keynotes like this one.  We spend, often, two years in our grad programs getting the Supermarket Sweep experience of student affairs and the knowledge base that makes up our field, and when we enter our first positions, we have all those ideas and ideals floating around trying to find a way to make a difference… immediately.  Take it easy, harness that energy, and take your time.  Change comes to people who do good.

Multiple captions for this right here: “We Graduated!” “White People” “Starburst JellyBeans are here for Easter!”

This is one of those lessons that you learn over time and often the hard way.  We all say yes to way too much, and it’s not a freaking martyr complex driving us, we are just excited and obviously we are surrounded by things we like to do and want to experience in this field.  But, we all have gotten in too deep at times, and have found ourselves needing to shed some responsibilities.  One of the key lessons you learn as you move along in the field is when to say no to things you have said yes to.


Trust me, your supervisor understands.  Your colleagues understand.  Folks understand.  We take on too much because we want to be helpful and involved, but we stretch ourselves too thin, our quality of work may go down, and we have to be selfish in order to preserve ourselves.  This lesson takes time, but it is key.

I often talk about staying relevant in the technology arena, keeping up with new apps and opportunities (I obvi need to get as up to date as possible with this danggum Bitcoin nonsense since some students are trying to hook up every MIT student with $100 of Bitcoin).

I took a different approach this time.  I invoked the memory of Officer Sean Collier, the MIT Police officer who was taken away from our community far too soon last year at the end of the Boston Marathon Bombing events.  In his short time at MIT, he became an active and trusted member of MIT Outing Club and many dance groups, learning to swing dance at student events.  He was well-liked on our campus, and is well-remembered today.  His example of involving himself in student life through his passions is something I think we can all aspire to in our field.

You don’t have to get a PhD to contribute research to the field.  Blog well-researched posts, contribute articles to your professional association’s journal, volunteer and create drive-in conferences around pressing issues in our field, etc.  We have to contribute to the knowledge base of our field, there is a lot more to learn.


My overarching theme with this talk was to have some humor as we move through this field, because you won’t survive if you don’t.  We face too many serious issues, and we take ourselves far too seriously sometimes, that if we don’t step back, guffaw loudly, and take a breath, we won’t get anywhere.

Laugh. More.

Whether you are Pharrell or Grumpy Cat, bring you to your office, because there isn’t a home you and a work you, and if there is, something is wrong.  Take a step back and smell the chocolate chip cookies (some are vegan, some are gluten free, some are totes fat-free or something), have a laugh, and then get back to work on the things you love.

Best of luck to all graduating Masters students out there, and buckle up rising second-years, get ready for your ride.


2 thoughts on “a grumpy send off…

  1. I’m very proud of you for being asked (and saying yes!) to keynote an event. Having done my first (of hopefully a few in my life) this year, it was nervewracking, but also affirming. I know the audience you talked to had an opportunity to learn from one of the best!

  2. Pingback: hardly a grumpy thing for #SAgrad… | Polar Bears and Coffee

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