Expect speeches also, including one or two that (with a little luck) will offer some serious thoughts about life.
I can't say for sure the latter will happen, of course. Many graduation speeches are more bromides than broadsides, talks that neither offend nor, sadly, inspire. Commencement addresses may be heartfelt and sincere, but they're rarely heart-stopping.
Still, there are exceptions. On YouTube you'll find Apple founder Steve Jobs telling graduates (not at NCC but at another college) to love what they do, to stay "hungry" and "foolish," and above all, to live their own lives, not someone else's.
You'll find author J.K. Rowling encouraging grads to use their voice and influence to benefit those who are voiceless: "We don't need magic to change the world," Rowling notes, with a nod to Harry Potter. "We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already--we have the power to imagine better."
You'll also find my favorite, Stephen King, America's literary bogeyman, reminding his young audience that life doesn't last forever and that the only thing that really matters is what people give to others:
"Should you give away what you have? Of course you should. I want you to consider making your life one long gift to others, and why? All you have is on loan, anyway. All you want to get at the getting place, from the Maserati you may dream about to the retirement fund some broker will try to sell you on, none of that is real. All that lasts is what you pass on. . . .
Like Rowling, King also reminds graduates that the fate of the world is in their hands:
"Imagine a nice little backyard, surrounded by a board fence. Dad--a pleasant fellow, a little plump, wearing an apron that says 'You may kiss the cook'--is tending the barbecue. Mom and the kids are setting the picnic table by the backyard pool: fried chicken, cole slaw, potato salad, a chocolate cake for dessert. And standing around that fence, looking in, are emaciated men and women, starving children. They are silent. They only watch. That family at the picnic table is us, ladies and gentlemen; that backyard is America and those hungry people on the other side of the fence, watching us all sit down to eat, include far too much of the rest of the world. It's Asia and the subcontinent; it's countries in central Europe, where people live on the edge from one harvest to the next; it's South America, where they're burning down the rain forests to make room for housing developments and for grazing lands where next year's Big Macs are being raised; most of all, it's Africa, where AIDS is pandemic--not epidemic--but pandemic--and starvation is a fact of life. . . .
"What we scrape down the kitchen disposal after Thanksgiving dinner for a family of eight would feed a Liberian village for a week . . . . While the national wealth has tripled over the last quarter century, the help we give to the world's poor has sunk back to 1973 levels . . . . In West Africa, the average life span is thirty-nine years. Infant mortality in the first year is fifteen percent. It's not a pretty picture, but we have the power to help, the power to change. And why should we refuse?"
Will NCC's graduation speakers--students and members of the administration--offer similarly stirring remarks? Will they remind graduates of their obligations to the world? Will they leave their audience with something substantive to ponder?
Let's hope so. You don't have to be famous to be inspirational, after all, only courageous, passionate, and genuine.
And what better way to bid farewell to our graduates than with a reminder of what really matters in life?