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This June, I had the indescribable honor of giving the commencement address at UC San Diego. I remember receiving the invitation in my email one morning and literally reading it a few times just to make sure it was real. When I say it was an honor, I’m not kidding. It could possibly beat out meeting the President
Let’s start with some history first. Philip, Ted, and I all graduated from UC San Diego in 2006. But we went to different colleges. You see, UCSD is organized into different colleges on campus. Kinda like the different houses at Hogwarts in Harry Potter! But being in a different college really just meant we had different general requirements, that’s all. The college I went to at UCSD was called Sixth College. It was brand new (hence the lack of an official name) and I was in the inaugural class. We were pretty much the guinea pigs of the curriculum. That was way back in 2002. It’s been ten years since Sixth College started and I was fortunate enough to speak at the 10th anniversary and commencement in June.
I’ll be totally honest. I was unbelievably nervous. Just getting the invite and thinking what it’d be like– made me all stressed. But this was one of those things you just couldn’t say “no” to. I wanted to do it. I was just nervous to do it. Prepping the speech was a challenge as well. The most difficult part was finding a balance between talking about what I do and talking about the graduates. I didn’t want to be on stage just telling my story– it had to relate. As advised by most of my friends, I watched other popular commencement speeches including Steve Jobs and Conan O’Brien. I wanted to be crazy inspirational and super funny just like them. In the end though, I just had to be me and totally embrace all the bad jokes and geeky references that came to mind. Actually, I borrowed a lot of our “tour talk” for the speech. Things like how Wong Fu started and grew into the company today. I had a few versions of my speech before I finally settled on one– with the main “advice” being: learn to adapt.
It was fun putting not the cap and gown again but this time, in such a different context. It truly felt surreal. There were over 3000 people that day and they definitely had an effect on my delivery. Whether you notice or not, I was a mess on stage. I was talking too fast in some parts and too slow in others. I stuttered and stumbled and…yeah. Plus I didn’t know I’d be sitting up front right next to the Chancellor of UCSD! It was actually really fun chatting with her while the graduates were walking. You can watch the video with annotations to see some other things that were going on in my head at the time.
I know the video has some specific references to UCSD, but I hope you’re able to take away something from watching. Everything I shared is from my own experience and if any of it can be applied to your lives, then…well, that’d be awesome :] Lastly, I’d like to thank all you viewers again for supporting, encouraging, and believing in Wong Fu Productions. Without you, my story would not be seen significant enough or relevant enough for me to be asked to share it. Believe me, you continue to inspire in more ways than you know. On behalf of the three of us, thank you.