Tag: ira glass

Ira Glass’s Commencement Speech: On Virginity, Being Poor, and Feeling Lost


True to form, Ira Glass began his commencement speech at Goucher College last week by insulting the very existence of commencement speeches. They’re “cloying and impossible,” full of stock advice; in fact, Glass said, he “oppose[s] on principle any commencement speech.” In the video (available here) of the speech, you can see Goucher students smiling up at Glass, wondering where he’s going to take this next.

And then the host of NPR’s This American Life started talking about how he lost his virginity… in one of those dorms just over there. The students erupted in gleeful, shocked laughter, and the things we all already knew — that  Glass knows how to shape a story, and how to keep listeners on their toes — became  apparent. Honestly, it was just a great speech:  Glass managed to hit that commencement speech sweet spot of being both poignant and irreverent. He told stories about feeling lost and poor in his twenties and thirties, when his parents (“possibly the only Jews who didn’t listen to public radio”) kept gently suggesting he consider a career change. He told parents to readjust their ideas of what they want their kids to be — and told students to be kind to their parents while this is happening (“There are things I said to my parents in my twenties that I still regret,” he cautioned. “As your parents catch up to you… don’t be a dick.”) He talked about being a terrible writer, and about the many years he spent making under $20,000 a year.

In short, it’s not one of those rousing, vague, “You can do anything, you are the future” sermons, but more like seventeen minutes of listening to a smart, honest man look back on his own life — and also the amazing life of his grandmother, a Goucher grad from way back. Worth a listen.

Baltimore County Boy Ira Glass to Speak at Goucher College Commencement


Everyone’s favorite empathy-fueled public personality, Ira Glass, is coming back to Baltimore (he was born here) to deliver this year’s commencement speech at Goucher College.

Glass, who attended Milford Mill High School in Baltimore County, is the one whose ever-so-slightly whiny voice has become a touchstone for NPR listeners, 1.7 million of which tune in to his weekly program “This American Life.”

I saw Glass speak back when I was in college, and he was — predictably — great. He’s got a way with an anecdote, and a talent for sneakily shifting the silly til it’s suddenly profound. This makes him pretty much perfectly suited as a commencement speaker. Good job, Goucher!

Other local schools — Johns Hopkins included — have yet to announce their commencement speakers. But no fear, we’ll stay on top of it — and let you know if anyone else exciting is coming to town.